Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee, who passed away earlier this year, was born on this day 85 years ago. A stalwart of Indian politics, Mukherjee had a long and distinguished political career spanning five decades during which he assumed various roles in the government and his party. Known as the ‘Man for All Seasons’, he was the point person of the Congress party in matters of politics as well as governance. He was a five-time member of Rajya Sabha and was elected twice in the Lok Sabha and his authority on parliamentary procedure was well-known.
Mukherjee died on August 31, 2020, at the age of 84 following brain surgery. He had also tested positive for COVID-19. On his birth anniversary, we recall some interesting facts about the great personality.
1. Mukherjee was born in 1935 in Mirati, Bengal Presidency, British India. His father, Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee played an active role in the Independence movement. He served in the West Bengal Legislative Council post-Independence as a representative of the Indian National Congress.
2. In the early stages of his career, Mukherjee worked as an upper-division clerk in the Office of the Deputy Accountant-General in Kolkata.
3. He taught political science at Vidyanagar College in the capacity of an assistant professor.
4. Before entering politics, he also worked as a journalist at Desher Dak.
5. Mukherjee started his political career when he founded the Bangla Congress in 1967. He forged the United Front alliance against the Indian National Congress. In 1969, he became a member of the Rajya Sabha for the first time on a Bangla Congress ticket.
6. In 1972, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi brought Mukherjee into the Indian National Congress as Bangla Congress merged into the grand old party.
7. Mukherjee improved the finances of the government and helped pay the last instalment of India's first IMF loan. He was voted the Best Finance Minister in the World in 1984 by Euromoney magazine.
8. As the Minister of Finance, Mukherjee appointed Manmohan Singh to be the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
9. After being sidelined in the party following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Mukherjee founded the Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress in 1986. The RSC merged with INC three years later.
10. Mukherjee held several crucial portfolios in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government including Defence, Finance, and External Affairs.
11. Mukherjee led the negotiations of the Indo-US nuclear deal between 2005 and 2008. As Minister of External Affairs, he succeeded in the signing of the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement.
12. Following 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Mukherjee played an active role in mobilising the world opinion against Pakistan.
13. As the President of India, Mukherjee rejected seven mercy petitions which included that of Ajmal Kasab and of Afzal Guru.
14. He became the first former President to attend a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) event in 2018, where he talked about the values of inclusion.
15. Mukherjee was known to be a workaholic who worked about 18 hours a day and took few leaves. He used to attend Durga Puja festivities in his hometown Mirati.