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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
HT Correspondent
Pranab Mukherjee,Ram Nath Kovind,President of India
India’s 13th President Pranab Mukherjee will make way for his successor Ram Nath Kovind, on July 25, 2017, leaving the Rashtrapati Bhavan behind after a career lasting nearly half a century.(Sonu Mehta / HT Photo)

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.

Finance Minister Chidambaram Subramaniam is flanked by Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of State for Revenue and Banking (Independent Charge) during the Emergency at Parliament House on March 15, 1976. (Ajit Kumar / HT Photo)

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.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi seen with close aide and then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at the NDMC Civic centre on December 30, 1983. (KK Chawla / HT Photo)

“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.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee seen in his office at Parliament House, with an assortment of smoking pipes at his table, on February 29. 1984. (Ajit Kumar / HT Photo)

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.

Pranab Mukherjee seen during his first stint as the Finance Minister on February 27, 1982. (Virendra Prabhakar / HT Photo)

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.

Pranab Mukherjee, then Commerce Secretary attends a meeting with his US counterpart Ron Brown (C) at Vigyan Bhavan on January 16, 1995. (Sanjay Sharma / HT Photo)

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.

Pranab Mukherjee (C) seen during a Congress rally on June 24, 2002. (Subhendu Ghosh / HT Photo)

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.

Pranab Mukherjee waves as he arrives in a horse driven carriage at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, having been sworn in as the India’s 13th President on July 25, 2012 in New Delhi. (Ajay Aggarwal / HT Photo)
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the farewell hosted by him for the President at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi. (PTI)

“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.”

President Pranab Mukherjee (R) gestures after his speech during his farewell ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi. (Shahbaz Khan / PTI)

First Published: Jul 25, 2017 10:08 IST