Veteran Congress leader and former President Pranab Mukherjee died at the Indian Army’s Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi on Monday. He was 84. The Centre announced a seven-day state mourning.
“As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, seven days State Mourning will be observed throughout India from 31.08.2020 to 06.09.2020, both days inclusive,” the Centre said in a statement. “During the period of State Mourning the National Flag will fly at half-mast on all buildings throughout India, where it is flown regularly and there will be no official entertainment. The date, time and venue of the State Funeral will be intimated later.”
Mukherjee’s son Abhijit announced his death on Twitter. “With a Heavy Heart, this is to inform you that my father Shri Pranab Mukherjee has just passed away inspite of the best efforts of Doctors of RR Hospital & prayers, duas and prarthanas from people throughout India,” he wrote. “I thank all of You.”
Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmishtha Mukherjee also took to Twitter to post a tribute to him. “You have led a full, meaningful life in service of the nation, in service of our people,” she wrote. “I feel blessed to have been born as your daughter.”
Mukherjee’s health had worsened on Sunday due to a lung infection. He had gone into a septic shock due to the infection.
The Congress leader underwent a brain surgery on August 10 and was in critical condition and on ventilator support since then. Before going in for the surgery, Mukherjee had announced on Twitter that he had contracted the Covid-19 coronavirus and advised all those who had come in contact with him to isolate themselves. Politicians cutting across party lines had wished Mukherjee a speedy recovery. Defence Rajnath Singh had visited Mukherjee at the hospital.
Mukherjee served as India’s 13th President from 2012 to 2017, and was succeeded by Ram Nath Kovind. Mukherjee had been a Cabinet minister in the United Progressive Alliance government, handling the portfolio of external affairs and finance on separate occasions. He was also the finance minister in the Indira Gandhi government from 1982 to 1984 and the external affairs minister in the Narasimha Rao government from 1995 to 1996.
In 2019, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award. In 2008, he had been awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award.
Modi, president mourn loss
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to pay his tributes to Mukherjee. “India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna Shri Pranab Mukherjee,” Modi tweeted. “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.” Modi also praised Mukherjee for being an approachable leader and said he will always remember the former president’s advice to him on key matters.
The Congress also posted a tribute to Mukherjee. “We are deeply pained by the passing of Shri Pranab Mukherjee,” the party said in a tweet. “Former President of India and one of the tallest leaders of the Congress Party, Shri Pranab Mukherjee will always be remembered for his integrity & compassion. Our prayers are with his family, followers & the nation.”
President Ram Nath Kovind also mourned Mukherjee’s death. “Sad to hear that former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee is no more,” he wrote on Twitter. “His demise is 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.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah remembered Mukherjee as a ‘vastly experienced and distinguished leader. “Deeply anguished on the passing away of former President of India, Bharat Ratna Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji,” he wrote on Twitter. “He was a vastly experienced leader who served the nation with utmost devotion. Pranab da’s distinguished career is a matter of great pride for the entire country.”
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also expressed his grief. “Deeply anguished by the demise of former president of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji,” he tweeted. “He was widely respected by the people across all sections of society. His demise is a personal loss. He had tremendous knowledge of India’s history, diplomacy, public policy and also defence.”