Pranab Mukherjee was an Indian politician who served as the 13th President of India from 2012 to 2017. He was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress (INC) and held many important positions over his political career of 5 decades. He died on 31 August 2020 after he developed a lung infection at the Army’s Research and Referral hospital in New Delhi.
Pranab Mukherjee was born on 11 December 1935 (age 84; at the time of death) in Mirati, Bengal Presidency, British India. His zodiac sign is Sagittarius. He did his schooling from the Dhaka Collegiate School, Bangladesh. He pursued his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the Suri Vidyasagar College, Birbhum, West Bengal. He then went on to pursue his MA degree from the same college in Political Science & History.
After completing his college, he took a job as an upper-division Clerk in the Office of the Deputy Accountant-General (Post and Telegraph) in Calcutta. In 1963, he became a Political Science Lecturer at the Vidyanagar College, South 24 Parganas, Kolkata. He also worked as a journalist for some time with the newspaper, Desher Dak (Call of the Motherland). In 1969, he started to manage the political campaign of V. K. Krishna Menon for the by-elections. Menon was a Congress candidate and Mukherjee managed his campaign so well that he was noticed by Indira Gandhi who made him a member of the Indian National Congress (INC).
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Grey
Family, Caste & Wife
Pranab Mukherjee belonged to a Kulin Brahmin family. Hindustan Times His father, Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee, was an active member of the Indian Independence Movement and the West Bengal Legislative Council between 1952 and 1964; where he represented the Indian National Congress. His mother, Rajlakshmi Mukherjee, was also a freedom fighter and took part in India’s independent movement. He had four sisters, Annapurna Banerjee, Krishna Mukherjee, Jharna, and Swagata Das Mukherjee. His elder brother, Pijush Mukherjee, died on 20 October 2017.
Pranab Mukherjee got married to Surva Mukherjee on 13 July 1957. They had two sons, Abhijit Mukherjee and Indrajit Mukherjee, and a daughter, Sharmistha Mukherjee. Surva Mukherjee died on 18 August 2015 after suffering from heart problems.
Pranab Mukherjee got associated with politics directly when he managed the by-election campaign of V. K. Krishna Menon from Midnapore, West Bengal. He managed his campaign so well that it caught the attention of Indira Gandhi. She was impressed by his talents and included him in the party. In July 1969, Pranab Mukherjee was elected to the Rajya Sabha for the first time. He was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1975, 1981, 1993, and 1999. Mukherjee eventually became Indira Gandhi’s right-hand, he became close to her and rose swiftly up the party ranks. In 1973, Indira Gandhi appointed Pranab Mukherjee as the Union Deputy Minister of Industrial Development.
In 1979, Mukherjee was appointed as the Deputy Leader of the Indian National Congress (INC) in the Rajya Sabha, and the Leader of the Rajya Sabha in 1980. He was seen as a leader with the most powerful Minister in the cabinet and even used to head cabinet meetings when Indira Gandhi was not present. In 1982, he was appointed as the Union Finance Minister. He was highly praised for his role as the Finance Minister; as, during his tenure, India received its first loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). During his term as the Finance Minister, the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was appointed as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
After Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, her son Rajiv Gandhi took over the government. At that time, many believed that Pranab Mukherjee would be the successor to Indira Gandhi as Rajiv Gandhi was not involved in politics before 1984. Pranab lost his Cabinet post and was appointed as the Head of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee. He was sidelined by Rajiv Gandhi from the national political scene and was eventually pushed out of Congress. In 1986, Pranab Mukherjee quit the Congress and formed his party in West Bengal, the Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress (RSC). In 1987, his party did not perform well in the Assembly Elections of West Bengal. In 1989, after many negotiations, his party merged with the Congress.
After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, he was appointed as the Deputy Chairman of India’s Planning Commission by the newly formed P.V. Narasimha Rao Government. He was the Minister of External Affairs from 1995 to 1996 in the Narasimha Rao Government. During his tenure as the External Affairs Minister of India, Mukherjee paid many important visits across the globe and also met many prominent global leaders including the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
In 1997, when Sonia Gandhi formally entered politics, it was believed that Pranab Mukherjee was the one who convinced her. He was even considered as Sonia Gandhi’s mentor. In 1998, when Sonia Gandhi became the President of the Congress party, Pranab Mukherjee was appointed as the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC). Pranab Mukherjee was appointed as the President of the West Bengal Congress in 2000, and he held on to that post until 2010.
Pranab Mukherjee contested and won his first Lok Sabha election in 2004 from the Jangipur Constituency of West Bengal. He was widely speculated to be named the Prime Minister after Sonia Gandhi had declined to take the post but, Manmohan Singh was appointed as the Prime Minister. In 2007, Mukherjee was considered to be named as the Presidential candidate, but his name was dropped considering his role in the UPA and the cabinet. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he was re-elected from the Jangipur Constituency. Pranab Mukherjee was an important part of the Manmohan Singh Government. He was the head of the Congress Parliamentary Party and the Congress Legislative Party, which includes all the Congress MP’s and MLA’s of India. He was the Leader of the House and the President of the West Bengal Congress Committee. Pranab Mukherjee held many important portfolios during the Manmohan Singh government such as External Affairs, Finance and Defence. He met many world leaders during his term as the Defence Minister.
In 2012, Pranab Mukherjee retired from the active politics and the same year, he was elected as the 13th President of India. After his retirement from active politics, many people termed it as an end of an era for Congress; as, Pranab, along with P.V. Narasimha Rao and R Venkataraman, were termed as the pillars of the Congress Party. They were called the Big Three of the Congress party; as all of them were Gandhi Family’s loyalists. On 15 June 2012, he was nominated as the Presidential candidate of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). On 25 July 2012, Pranab Mukherjee was sworn-in as the President of India by the Chief Justice of India. In January 2017, Pranab Mukherjee stated that he would not be contesting for the Presidential elections again; keeping in mind his advanced age and ailing health.
Awards, Honours & Achievements
- Honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2008
- Named as the Best Finance Minister in World in 1984 by a survey in the Euromoney magazine
- Named as the Finance Minister of the Year for Asia in 2010 by the Emerging Markets magazine (the daily newspaper of the World Bank and IMF)
- He was named the Finance Minister of the Year in 2010 by The Banker magazine
- Presented with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Calcutta on 28 November 2014
- He was presented with an Honorary Doctorate in Political Science by The University of Jordan on 11 October 2015
- He was presented with an Honorary Doctorate by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel on 15 October 2015
- He was accorded the Honorary Citizenship of Abidjan, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Africa on 15 June 2016
- He was presented with an Honorary Doctorate by the Kathmandu University, Nepal on 3 November 2016
- He was presented with an Honorary Doctorate by the Goa University on 25 April 2017
- Honoured with the Bharat Ratna; India’s Highest Civilian Honour in 2019
- On 2 July 2012, his opponent for the Presidential elections, P.A. Sangma, filed a petition against Mukherjee. He blamed him of holding an office of profit while being the Finance Minister. He demanded that Mukherjee’s candidature for President should be cancelled. Sangma said that Mukherjee was the Chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI). According to Article 58 and 59, a presidential candidate cannot hold an office of profit including government-controlled bodies.
- When he was the Finance Minister between 2009 to 2012, he was blamed for influencing the textile industry, the Income Tax Department, and imposing a differential tax on Reliance Industries against Bombay Dyeing.
- In 2018, in his book The Coalition Years, he revealed that Sonia Gandhi hated Hindus, and she took many decisions that would affect the Hindus badly. He also wrote about how she targeted Hindu saints and took measures to ensure that their reputation was damaged.
- In 2019, when Mukherjee was named as a recipient of the Bharat Ratna, many people speculated that the BJP was just awarding Mukherjee to appeal to the East and Northeast states.
Flat No. 2-A, Kavi Bharti Sarani, Lake Road, Kolkata
Pranab Mukherjee had a Ford Ikon (2000 model) and an Ambassador
- Beyond Survival: Emerging Dimensions of Indian Economy (1984)
- Off the Track (1987)
- The saga of Struggle and Sacrifice (1992)
- Challenges before the Nation (1992)
- Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation (2011)
- Thoughts and Reflections (2014)
- The Dramatic Decade: The Indira Gandhi Years (2014)
- Selected Speeches – Pranab Mukherjee (2015)
- The Turbulent Years: 1980 – 1996 (2016)
- The Coalition Years (2018)
Assets & Properties
Cash: 1.37 Lacs INR
Bank Deposits: 59.67 Lacs INR
Agricultural land: Worth 1.66 Lacs INR in Mirati, Birbhum, Kolkata
Residential flats: In Munirka, New Delhi (worth 39 Lacs INR), and in Kavi Bharti Sarani, Lake Road, Kolkata (worth 21 Lacs INR)
Ancestral house: Worth 60,000 INR in Mirati, Birbhum, Kolkata
3.06 Crores INR (as in 2011)
On, Monday, 31 August 2020, Pranab Mukherjee died after he developed a lung infection at the Army’s Research and Referral hospital in New Delhi. He was undergoing treatment at the hospital for a brain surgery. Earlier, he had also tested COVID-19 positive. The Hindu
- He was the first Bengali to become the President of India.
- He enjoyed reading, gardening, and music.
- In an interview, Pranab Mukherjee said that he was inspired by the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, and he often used to quote him in his literary work and speeches.
- Even during his busy political life, he never missed celebrating Durga Puja at his ancestral home in Mirati village, Birbhum, West Bengal.
- He was a heavy smoker in the ’90s, but then he quit.
- As the President of India, he rejected seven mercy petitions, including those of Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab.
- In June 2018, Pranab Mukherjee became the first former President of India to address a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) event.
- In 2017, he quit politics.