In Pics | Curtains on Pranab Mukherjee’s illustrious career at Rashtrapati Bhavan
As the baton of India’s highest executive position passes from Pranab Mukherjee to the 14th president-elect Ram Nath Kovind, a look back at the outgoing first citizen’s journey to this top post.india Updated: Jul 25, 2017 11:05 IST
With a political career spanning nearly 50 years, Pranab Mukherjee -- the 13th President of India -- will vacate Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday, bringing to a close another chapter in the legacy of the veteran politician.
Born on December 11, 1935 to freedom fighters Shri Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee and Rajlakshmi in Mirati, Bengal, he began his career as a college teacher and a journalist, taking to politics full-time with his election to the Rajya Sabha in 1969. His father had also been associated with politics as a Congress leader.
During the Indira Gandhi government’s tenure, Mukherjee was appointed the deputy minister, industrial development in 1973. His portfolio expanded to include steel and industry, shipping and transport and the office of minister of state for finance in the period extending to 1974.
“Even Mrs Gandhi would say, ‘No matter how hard one tries, they can never get a word out of Pranab. All they will see is the smoke coming out of his pipe’,” recalled journalist and long-time friend Jayanta Ghoshal, who has known Mukherjee since 1985, as he spoke about the trust between the prime minister and her finance minister to PTI.
Known for his penchant for pipes, Mukherjee’s collection extends beyond 500 pieces. Collected over decades as gifts from foreign dignitaries, Mukherjee was often seen with an empty pipe – chewing at its stem, despite having quit smoking years earlier. His collection of pipes will now sit at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum after his departure.
Mukherjee became the finance minister for the first time in 1982 in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He was also the Leader of the Upper House of Parliament from 1980 to 1985.
Mukherjee moved on to occupy the offices of minister for commerce from 1993 to 1995, minister of external affairs from 1995 to 1996 and minister of defence from 2004 to 2006.
His second stint as minister of external affairs ran from 2006 to 2009. He moved on to become the minister of finance from 2009 to 2012 and Leader of the Lower House of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from 2004 to 2012.
As the 13th President, Mukherjee sought to bring the imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan closer to the general public by opening its gates and bringing out the various artefacts tucked away in its 340 rooms to view.
“Surely there have been divergences of views, between me and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But we have been able to keep divergences only to ourselves, that didn’t affect our relation,” Mukherjee was noted while speaking to a gathering.
The Prime Minister also reciprocated the gesture, calling Mukherjee a mentor, adding: “In my initial days, Pranabda held my hand to help me settle in Delhi.”