New Delhi, Aug 31 (efe-epa).- Pranab Mukherjee, who served as India’s 13th president between 2012 and 2017, died on Monday at the age of 84 after undergoing a brain operation earlier this month, having earlier contracted Covid-19 and subsequently developing various complications due to which he had slipped into a coma.
“With a Heavy Heart, this is to inform you that my father Pranab Mukherjee has just passed away in spite of the best efforts of doctors (…) & prayers from people throughout India !,” tweeted his son, Abhijit Mukherjee.
The leader had been admitted to the Army Hospital (Research and Referral) in Delhi on Aug. 10 to undergo a surgery for removing a blood clot from his brain.
Earlier on the same day, Mukherjee had announced on social media that in the pre-admission tests at the hospital he had tested positive for the new coronavirus, urging people who had come into contact with him in recent days to isolate themselves and get tested.
After the operation, the hospital informed that Mukherjee was in deep coma and afterwards his health continued to deteriorate after he developed a lung infection and suffered renal failure. He had been kept on ventilator support since then.
Ever since Mukherjee was hospitalized, social media had been abuzz with messages and wishes for his quick recovery.
On Monday President Ram Nath Kovind was among the first people to offer his condolences to the family of his predecessor and highlighting the leader’s legacy in the country’s history.
“Sad to hear that former President Pranab Mukherjee is no more. His demise is passing of an era. A colossus in public life, he served Mother India with the spirit of a sage. The nation mourns losing one of its worthiest sons. Condolences to his family, friends & all citizens,” Kovind tweeted from his official handle.
Born in 1935 in a middle class family in the eastern state of West Bengal, Mukherjee worked as a professor and a journalist before entering politics with the center-left Indian National Congress party, led by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
After first being elected to the parliament in 1969, Mukherjee held almost all important political posts of the country, including stints at the helm of the foreign, finance and defense ministries and the deputy chairmanship of the planning commission.
During five decades of an impressive political career, Mukherjee gained respect and recognition across the political divide, although he did have his share of controversies and faced allegations of having links with the powerful industrial conglomerate Reliance.
An active and busy politician, Mukherjee had admitted that he hardly had time to spend with his family – including two sons and a daughter – at the height of his career, and met his wife just for a goodnight kiss on some days.
On July 25, 2012, he was elected president of India – a largely formal post without many executive powers as per the Indian constitution – at the age of 76.
As president, Mukherjee carried out diplomatic visits to several countries and received official visitors at the Rashtraparti Bhavan, the imposing British-era presidential palace in central Delhi.
After watching over the “vibrant” Indian democracy – an adjective he had used himself in an interview to EFE – the leader was succeeded by Ram Nath Kovind on July 25, 2017.
After leaving the post, Mukherjee decided to retire from political life due to age-related health complications, although he continued to appear in events and participating in public life at times. EFE-EPA