Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee dies aged 84

Thursday, September 3, 2020

On Monday, Pranab Mukherjee, a career politician who served as President of India for five years, died. He was aged 84 years. His death was announced by his son Abhijit Mukherjee via Twitter. He died at the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital, in New Delhi. Mukherjee was cremated on Tuesday with full state honors as the nation began observing a seven day mourning period.

File photo, 2015 (Image: Mark Neyman)

Born on December 11, 1935, in Mirati, Pranab Mukherjee began his political career in his ancestral home of West Bengal. He was brought into national politics and the Indian National Congress (INC) party by Indira Gandhi. Mukherjee was elected to the Rajya Sabha, the upper legislature, and was soon given ministerial posts by Gandhi. He became finance minister in 1982. Mukherjee was also elected to the Lok Sabha, the lower legislature, for two terms in addition to his five terms in Rajya Sabha. He served, at different times, as the leader of both legislative bodies. Mukherjee was elected President in 2012 and served his full five-year term, but did not seek reelection, citing age and health concerns.

Mukherjee was hospitalized on August 10 after a reported fall at his home. He was subsequently determined to have a blood clot for which he received brain surgery. The hospital also found him to be positive for the COVID-19 virus. While hospitalized, Mukherjee developed kidney problems as well as a lung infection which induced septic shock. It was reported he was in a coma at time of death.

Current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi wrote, "India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna 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 [...] Condolences to his family, friends, admirers and supporters across India. Om Shanti."

Vijay Goel, a member of the Rajya Sabha, said, "He was an excellent politician, orator [...] For the Congress, he was the helmsman. He won [the] hearts of everyone. Our prime minister respected him so much, one can imagine, how important he was for the country. He was a true Bharat Ratna".

His daughter, and member of the INC, Sharmistha Mukherjee wrote, "Last year August 8 was one of the happiest days for me as my dad received Bharat Ratna. Exactly a year later on August 10 he fell critically ill. May God do whatever is best for him and give me strength to accept both joys and sorrows of life with equanimity. I sincerely thank all for their concerns".