“I’m comfortable at the height destiny has put me.”
The sad demise of former Indian President and Bharat Ratan Pranab Mukherjee has jolted the nation over the loss of a strong statesman, a visionary and an architect of the liberalisation era who contributed significantly towards the development trajectory of the nation. A consensus builder with great intellect to build politics of personal equation, reaching across the aisle to politicians from the different ideologies-the reason why everyone calls him Pranab Da- stitched the phases of coalition era of Indian politics in the 90s.
One of the most non-controversial Presidents of India, Pranab began his political career with the Indian National Congress in 1969 under then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and became one of her top lieutenants. Over time, he came to be referred as 'the man for all seasons' owing to his position as a trusted pillar of the Congress.
He will always be remembered for his principles and grounded nature. At different times in his earlier political career, the 13th President of India, had already held three of the four major portfolios of governance: finance, defense, and external affairs. He had also contributed as the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, one of the most influential government body in the past and was also a member of Congress Working Committee. He was also the key mover behind historic agreements such as the Indo-US Nuclear.
Though he didn't become the Prime Minister himself, Pranab Mukherjee had a lasting legacy in Indian politics spanning over the last five decades as he served under four Congress Prime Ministers: Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao, and Dr. Manmohan Singh. He even showed natural ease in his relationship with Narendra Modi who belongs to the party he had strongly opposed in his entire political career.
A renowned and sagacious politician, an efficient administrator, and an eloquent speaker, he had an elephantine knowledge of history and politics. Pranab Mukherjee was a staunch believer of secular values. He was known for his ability to develop cordial relations with leaders across the aisle and came to be known as a troubleshooter for the Congress. He was not a 'mass leader' but Pranab da was a leader widely respected by colleagues across the political spectrum. Mukherjee will be remembered and admired as a captain whose words were heard with attention by all.
Pranab Mukherjee was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, in 2019 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. He was also bestowed the 'Best Administrator in India' award in 2011 by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
An inspiration to students, Pranab Da’s mantra of being proactive, innovative and responsive to deal with new challenges are virtues we should always abide by. His legacy as a wise politician will be cherished forever. May his noble soul rests in peace.