30 December, 2012

Pranab Mukherjee



Pranab Kumar Mukherjee is an Indian politician who served as the 13th President of India from 2012 until 2017. 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 consensus with Rajiv Gandhi. After Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in 1991, 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 and 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 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.

In 2017, Mukherjee decided not to run for re-election and to retire from politics after leaving the presidency due to "health complications relating to old age". His term expired on July 25, 2017. He was succeeded as President by Ram Nath Kovind.

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