New Delhi, Aug 31 : Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s death on Monday plunged his friends and opponents across party lines into mourning.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday expressed grief over the death of former President Mukherjee, saying his death is the “passing of an era”.
“Sad to hear that former President Pranab Mukherjee is no more. His demise is the passing of an era. A colossus in public life, he served Mother India with the spirit of a sage. The nation mourns losing one of its worthiest sons. Condolences to his family, friends and all citizens,” President Kovind said in a series of tweets.
Endowed with perspicacity and wisdom, Kovind said Bharat Ratna Mukherjee combined tradition and modernity. In his five-decade-long illustrious public life, the President said that Mukherjee remained grounded irrespective of the exalted offices he held.
“He endeared himself to people across the political spectrum.”
“As the First Citizen, he (Pranab Mukherjee) continued to connect with everyone, bringing Rashtrapati Bhavan closer to the people. He opened its gates to the common man. His decision to discontinue the use of the honorific ‘His Excellency’ was historic.
“Calling Mukherjee a ‘statesman’ and an ‘illustrious son of India’, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu said he rose from humble beginnings to occupy the country’s highest constitutional position through hard work, discipline and dedication.
“Learnt with profound grief the passing away of former President Pranab Mukherjee. He brought dignity and decorum to every post held by him during his long and distinguished public service,” Naidu said.
Known for his administrative acumen and deep understanding of India’s parliamentary system, Naidu said Mukherjee held several important positions including Finance Minister, Defence Minister, External Affairs Minister and Deputy Chairman and Planning Commission. As President, Naidu said Mukherjee encouraged people to participate in innovative programmes at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“He was an encyclopaedia on parliamentary processes, contemporary, political and other matters and was known for his scholarly knowledge. He was an excellent parliamentarian and known for his oratorical skills.
“His phenomenal memory and quick grasp of the issues are legendary. He took an abiding interest in deepening democracy and strengthening various institutions. He was one of the great consensus figures and used to reach out to everybody across the political spectrum,” Naidu said.
In his death, the Vice President said India has lost one of the outstanding leaders. “I convey my deepest condolences to bereaved family members and pray to God to give them strength and fortitude to bear this huge loss.
Mukherjee, elder statesman and one of the country’s most respected politicians, died at 84. The former President of India, who tested positive for coronavirus, had been in coma after a brain surgery earlier this month.
Condoling the death of Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is grieving at his demise, adding that he left an “indelible mark on the development trajectory of our nation”.
Calling Mukherjee a scholar par excellence, the Prime Minister said he was admired across the political spectrum.
“India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He has left an indelible mark on the development trajectory of our nation. A scholar par excellence, a towering statesman, he was admired across the political spectrum and by all sections of society,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
“During his political career that spanned decades, Pranab Mukherjee made long-lasting contributions in key economic and strategic ministries. He was an outstanding Parliamentarian, always well-prepared, extremely articulate as well as witty,” Modi said.
Union Home Minister and former BJP President Amit Shah as well as BJP’s present chief J.P. Nadda also condoled the death of Mukherjee.
Shah said he is “deeply anguished” on the passing away of Mukherjee.
Saying that Mukherjee served the nation with “utmost devotion”, Shah tweeted, “Pranab Da’s life will always be cherished for his impeccable service and indelible contribution to our motherland. His demise has left a huge void in Indian polity. My sincerest condolences are with his family and followers on this irreparable loss. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.”
Nadda remarked, “Saddened by the demise of former President and statesman Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He has served the country in many roles with diligence and determination. He is widely admired across the parties for his intellect and perseverance.”
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Mukherjee’s former party colleagues also paid rich tributes to the late leader.
“With great sadness, the nation receives the news of the unfortunate demise of our former President Pranab Mukherjee. I join the country in paying homage to him. My deepest condolences to the bereaved family and friends,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
The Congress, too, condoled the death of the former President. The party, on its official Twitter handle, said: “We are deeply pained by the passing of Pranab Mukherjee. Former President of India and one of the tallest leaders of the Congress party, Pranab Mukherjee will always be remembered for his integrity and compassion. Our prayers are with his family, followers and the nation.”
Congress national media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala, condoling the death of the veteran Congress leader, said “an era has come to an end”.
“An era has come to an end. Your thoughts, memories and sense of commitment to the party, the people and the nation lives on… Rest in Peace Pranab Da,” Surjewala tweeted.
“Deeply saddened at the demise of former President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. The nation has lost a great leader, thinker and statesman. His entire life was dedicated to the service of the nation. My heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and supporters. May his soul rest in peace,” another veteran Congress leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted.
The former President’s daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee said that her father led a full and meaningful life in service of the nation and people.
In a tweet, an emotional Sharmistha said, “I bow to all. Baba, taking the liberty to quote from your favourite poet to say your final goodbye to all. You have led a full, meaningful life in service of the nation, in service of our people. I feel blessed to have been born as your daughter.”
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday expressed his “profound sorrow” at the passing away of former President and his former ministerial colleague Pranab Mukherjee.
“In his death, our country has lost one of its greatest leaders of independent India. He and I worked very closely in the Government of India and I depended on him a great deal for his wisdom, vast knowledge and experience of public affairs,” Manmohan Singh said in his message.
Interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi also condoled the death of the former President and veteran Congress leader.
In a message to the late leader’s daughter and Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee, Sonia Gandhi said, “Pranab da had been such an integral and prominent part of national life, the Congress party and the central government for over five decades, it is hard to imagine how we can do without his wisdom, experience, sage advice and deep understanding of so many subjects.”
“He brought distinction to every post he held, he established a genuine rapport with colleagues across the political spectrum, and he served the country with the utmost dedication. His life over the past 50 years mirrored 50 years of the history of India, for he played a crucial role both in shaping the course of events as well as actively participating in them, whether as a Cabinet minister, parliamentarian or President of India,” Sonia said.
She said, “I personally have so many warm memories of working with him, and I learnt so much from him. The Congress party deeply mourns his loss and will always honour his memory.”
Expressing grief at the passing away of Mukherjee, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday said national interest was supreme for “Pranab da” who served it with dedication and distinction.
Birla said he was deeply saddened by the passing away of Mukherjee and that his demise is an irreparable loss for the nation. In more than five decades in public life, Birla recalled that Mukherjee served the nation with exemplary dedication.
“His experience in parliamentary and administrative matters was unmatched, a quality which manifested itself in his extraordinary work ethic.
“Pranab Mukherjee never let politics overshadow his personal relations,” said the Lok Sabha Speaker, adding it was an attribute that allowed him to easily build consensus on some of the most important and complex political matters.
“His expert leadership on many important policies continues to guide our way and illuminate our paths. May his soul rest in peace. My condolences to the bereaved family.”
“India lost one of its great sons”, is how Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar remembered Mukherjee.
“He was not only intellectual; but at work a decision maker, a strategist and also he was one of the backbones in Parliament,” Javadekar remarked.
The Union Minister said Mukherjee has left a mark in governance. “As the President of India, he has performed with clear understanding and with dignity,” Javadekar added.
He recounted, “As a President, he delivered many convocation addresses in many universities, throughout the country. I asked his permission to publish them as a book and he was kind enough to give that permission. When we published that book on his university addresses, he was very happy.”
Mukherjee breathed his last on Monday evening, at the age of 84, marking the end of an era. He was not only detected with Covid-19 but was on a ventilator following a brain surgery to remove a blood clot.
The former President was admitted to Army’s R&R Hospital in Delhi Cantt on August 10 in what the hospital described as “critical condition”.
In the last available statement by the hospital, it said, “There is a decline in the medical condition of Pranab Mukherjee since yesterday.”
He is survived by his two sons, Abhijit and Indrajit Mukherjee, and daughter Sharmishta.
In the morning, the Army hospital had reported a decline in his condition. He had gone into septic shock due to his lung infection.
Mukherjee, who was President of India from 2012 to 2017, was hospitalized on August 10 in a critical condition.