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Pranab Mukherjee Biography
Pranab Kumar Mukherjee born on 11th December, 1935 is the 13th and current President of India, in office since July 2012. In a political career spanning six decades, Mukherjee was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and occupied several ministerial portfolios in the Government of India. Prior to his election as President, Mukherjee was Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012, and the Congress party’s top troubleshooter.
Mukherjee got his break in politics in 1969 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi helped him get elected to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament, on a Congress ticket. Following a meteoric rise, he became one of Indira Gandhi’s most trusted lieutenants, and a minister in her cabinet by 1973. During the controversial Internal Emergency of 1975–77, he was accused ( like several other Congress leaders ) of committing gross excesses. Mukherjee’s service in a number of ministerial capacities culminated in his first stint as finance minister in 1982–84. Mukherjee was also Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha from 1980 to 1985.
Mukherjee was sidelined from the Congress during the premiership of Rajiv Gandhi, Indira’s son. Mukherjee had viewed himself, and not the inexperienced Rajiv, as the rightful successor to Indira following her assassination in 1984. Mukherjee lost out in the ensuing power struggle. He formed his own party, the Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress, which merged with the Congress in 1989 after reaching a compromise with Rajiv Gandhi. Mukherjee’s political career revived when Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao appointed him Planning Commission head in 1991 and foreign minister in 1995. Following this, as elder statesman of the Congress, Mukherjee was the principal architect of Sonia Gandhi’s ascension to the party’s presidency in 1998.
When the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance ( UPA ) came into power in 2004, Mukherjee, never a mass leader, won a Lok Sabha ( the popularly elected lower house of Parliament ) seat for the first time. From then until his resignation in 2012, Mukherjee was practically number-two in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government. He held a number of key cabinet portfolios—Defence ( 2004–06 ), External Affairs ( 2006–09 ) and Finance ( 2009–12 )—apart from heading several Groups of Ministers ( GoMs ) and being Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha. After securing the UPA’s nomination for the country’s presidency, in July 2012 Mukherjee comfortably defeated P. A. Sangma in the race to Rashtrapati Bhavan, winning 70 percent of the electoral-college vote.
Early life and career
Mukherjee was born to a Bengali family at village Mirati in Birbhum district in the Bengal province of British India ( now in West Bengal ). His father, Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee, was active in the Indian independence movement and was a member of West Bengal Legislative Council between 1952 and 1964 as a representative of the Indian National Congressand was the memeber of AICC. His mother was Rajlakshmi Mukherjee
He attended the Suri Vidyasagar College in Suri ( Birbhum ), then affiliated with the University of Calcutta. He subsequently earned an MA degree in political science and history and also an LL.B degree from the department of law of the University of Calcutta.
He began his career as an upper-division clerk in the office of the Deputy Accountant-General ( Post and Telegraph ) in Calcutta. In 1963, he began teaching political science at the Vidyanagar College ( in South 24 Parganas ) and he also worked as a journalist with the Desher Dak ( Call of Motherland ) before entering politics.
Early political career
Mukherjee’s political career began in 1969, when he managed the successful Midnapore by-election campaign of an independent candidate, V. K. Krishna Menon. The then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, recognised Mukherjee’s talents and recruited him to her party, the Indian National Congress. He became a member of the Rajya Sabha ( the upper house of Indian parliament ) in July 1969. Mukherjee would be re-elected to the house in 1975, 1981, 1993 and 1999.. On july 1969 he was elected in rajya sabha. Some of his international oraganisation are as following in manner 1 ) Board of governers 2 )International monetary fund 1982-1985 3 ) World bank 4 )asian development bank
Mukherjee became a Gandhi loyalist, and is often described as her “man for all seasons”. Mukherjee’s rise was rapid in the early phase of his career and he was appointed Union Deputy Minister of Industrial Development in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet in 1973. Mukherjee was active in the Indian cabinet during the controversial Internal Emergency of 1975–77. Ruling Congress politicians of the day including Mukherjee were accused of using extra-constitutional powers to “wreck established norms and rules of governance”. Following the Congress’s defeat in the 1977 general elections, the newly formed Janata government-appointed Shah Commission indicted Mukherjee; however, the commission was itself later indicted for stepping “outside its jurisdiction” in 1979. Mukherjee emerged unscathed and rose through a series of cabinet posts to become Finance Minister from 1982 to 1984.
His term was noted for his work in improving the finances of the government that enabled Gandhi to score a political point by returning the last instalment of India’s first IMF loan. As Finance Minister, Mukherjee signed the letter appointing Manmohan Singh as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
In 1979, Mukherjee became Deputy Leader of the INC in the Rajya Sabha, and in 1980 he was appointed Leader of the House. Mukherjee was considered the top-ranking Indian cabinet minister and he presided over cabinet meetings in the absence of the Prime Minister.
Mukherjee was sidelined from the INC following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Although Mukherjee was much more experienced in politics than Indira’s son, Rajiv Gandhi, it was Rajiv who gained control. Mukherjee lost his position in the cabinet and was sent to manage the regional West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee. He had considered himself to be Indira’s likely successor and, siding with those within his party who aligned themselves against Rajiv Gandhi, Mukherjee was eventually expelled.
In 1986, Mukherjee founded another party, the Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress ( RSC ), in West Bengal. The RSC and INC merged three years later after reaching a compromise with Rajiv Gandhi. The RSC had fared terribly in the 1987 Assembly polls in West Bengal. Many analysts, over the years, have attributed the muting of Mukherjee’s political aspirations as the supreme leader due to his inability to emerge as a magnetic mass leader. On later being asked that did he ever desire to become Prime Minister, Mukherjee, however, replied, “7 RCR was never my destination.” The Zee News noted: “The statement assumes heft in the light of the longstanding speculation that Mukherjee, as one of the doyens of Congress, always nursed an ambition to occupy the top executive post.”
Mukherjee’s political career revived following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 when P. V. Narasimha Rao chose to appoint him as deputy chairman of the Indian planning commission and subsequently as a union cabinet minister. Mukherjee served as External Affairs Minister for the first time from 1995 to 1996 in Rao’s cabinet.
Mukherjee today is considered to be a Gandhi family loyalist and the principal architect of Sonia Gandhi’s entry into politics, a mentoring responsibility he is still believed to be shouldering. He was made General Secretary of the AICC in 1998–99 after Sonia Gandhi became Congress President. Mukherjee was made President of the West Bengal Congress in 2000 and held the position until his resignation in 2010. He had earlier held the position in 1985.
Mukherjee became Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha in 2004. He contested and won a Lok Sabha seat from Jangipur in West Bengal which he would later retain in 2009. It was speculated in 2004 that Mukherjee would be made Prime Minister of India after Sonia Gandhi unexpectedly declined the position. However, Gandhi eventually nominated Manmohan Singh to become Prime Minister.
Mukherjee was briefly considered for the post of the largely ceremonial Indian presidency in 2007 but his name was subsequently dropped after his contribution in the Union Cabinet was considered practically indispensable.
Mukherjee held many important posts in the Manmohan Singh government. He had the distinction of being the Minister for various high profile Ministries including Defence, Finance, and External Affairs. Mukherjee also headed the Congress Parliamentary Party and the Congress Legislative Party which consists of all the Congress MPs and MLAs in the country apart from being Leader of the House in Lok Sabha and Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee President.
Mukherjee ended his affiliation with the Indian National Congress and retired from active political life following his election as President in 2012. The Economic Times had noted: “[the] decades of activity in critical all-round roles make [Mukherjee’s] exit both a structural and generation shift. With him, the last of the Congress triumvirate – along with Rao and R Venkataraman – who formed the core team of Indira/Rajiv regimes bows out. While Rao became PM, Pranab’s political marathon too ends where [Venkataraman’s] did, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.”
Pranab Mukherjee President of India
Mukherjee was nominated as the presidential candidate of the United Progressive Alliance on 15th June, 2012 after considerable political intrigue. The elections were scheduled to be conducted on 19 July 2012 and the results were expected to be announced on 22nd July, 2012. As many as 81 other candidates had filed nominations but the Election Commission rejected all except that of P. A. Sangma, the nominee of the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA ). In order to file his nomination for the presidential poll on 28 June, Mukherjee had resigned from the government on 26th June, 2012.
In the election, Mukherjee received 713,763 votes, while Sangma had 315,987. In his victory speech, delivered outside his residence before the results were officially announced, he said : I would like express my deep gratitude to all of you who are waiting. The figure has crossed 7 lakhs, only one state remains. The final figure will come from the returning officer. I would like to thank the people of India for electing me to this high office. The enthusiasm, the warmth of the people was remarkable. I have received much more from the people of this country, from the Parliament, than I have given. Now I have been entrusted with the responsibility of protecting and defending the constitution as President. I will try and justify the trust of the people. I would like to reciprocate the congratulation Shri Purno Sangma has extended.
Mukherjee was sworn-in by the Chief Justice of India on 25th July, 2012, becoming the first Bengali to hold the post of President of India. After being administered the oath of office, he said we are amidist of fourth world war of terror and what minutes of peace can achieve cannot be achieved in many years of war.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh both congratulated Pranab Mukherjee on his election as President. Former Communist leader Somnath Chatterjee termed Mukherjee as one of “the best parliamentarians and statesmen of India” and said the country “has got the most able man for the top job”. Opposition leader Sharad Yadav declared “the nation needed a president like Pranab Mukherjee.” Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit commented and said Mukherjee will be “one of the wisest presidents.” She further marvelled at the fact that parties in the opposition ranks supported Mukherjee. “Even the NDA broke up and wanted to vote for the president to be Pranab Mukherjee.” The Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP ) was reportedly “shocked” and “upset” at the cross-voting for Mukherjee by its legislative members. However, the BJP party President Nitin Gadkari congratulated Mukherjee and said “I extend my hearty congratulations to Pranab Mukherjee on his election today as the new President of India.” Gadkari further declared “I am sure that the country will make further development and progress. I wish him all success and a bright future.”
Social activist Arvind Kejriwal had stated that he will release proof of Mukherjee’s alleged involvement in corruption to coincide with his swearing-in as President. However, Kejriwal failed to produce any such proof. Mukherjee rejected allegations of corruption against him as ‘unfair’ and ‘self-seeking’ and said, “it reflected the lack of responsibility on behalf of those claiming to represent high standards of ethical behaviour”. Mukherjee further said “the false allegations against him were being levelled with ulterior motive and were malafide and suffered from serious suppression of facts.”However no such baffling reports were released.
Criminal Law ( Amendment ) Ordinance, 2013 was promulgated by Pranab Mukherjee on 3rd February, 2013, which provides for amendment of Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 on laws related to sexual offences. Pranab was applauded for rejecting the mercy petitions of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru.
Pranab Mukherjee Personal life
Pranab Mukherjee married Suvra Mukherjee on 13th July, 1957. Suvra Mukherjee was born and raised in Narail, Bangladesh. She immigrated to Kolkata while she was 10 and married to Pranab in 1957. The couple have two sons and a daughter. He is inspired by Deng Xiaoping and has quoted him quite frequently. His hobbies are reading, gardening and music. His elder son, Abhijit Mukherjee, is a Congress MP from Jangipur, West Bengal. He was elected in the by-polls held after his father vacated the seat. Before his election, Abhijit was an MLA from Nalhati in Birbhum. His daughter is a Kathak dancer.
Mukherjee celebrates the Durga Puja at his ancestral home in Mirati village. He makes it a point to be at Mirati village every year to take part in the four-day rituals, the puja having a ‘social dimension’ for him. “I want to avail this opportunity to be with the people of my area,” Mukherjee said during a puja ceremony on 4 October 2011.
Mukherjee has received several accolades and honours. In 1984, he was rated as the best Finance Minister in the World according to a survey of Euromoney magazine. In 2010, he was awarded “Finance Minister of the Year for Asia” by Emerging Markets, the daily newspaper of record for the World Bank and the IMF. In December 2010, The Banker recognised him as the “Finance Minister of the Year.” The government of India honoured him with the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of India, in 2008. Mukherjee was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University of Wolverhampton in 2011. He was also awarded an honorary D.Litt by the Assam University and Visvesvaraya Technological University in March 2012. He is also awarded with an honorary doctorate of law by the president of Bangladesh and DU chancellor Mohammad Zillur Rahman at the University of Dhaka on 4th March, 2013. He was also awarded Bangladesh’s second highest award ‘Bangladesh Muktijuddho Sanmanona ( Liberation War award )’ on March 5, 2013.] He was awarded Doctor of Civil Law Honoris Causa by the University of Mauritius on 13th March, 2013.