New Delhi: Chocolates not only kept the doctor away, but also brightened up Pranab Mukherjee during his fourth budget speech on Monday.
A close associate of the Congress veteran told Mint that Mukherjee would have collapsed during the speech due to his low sugar level had he not used a providential break to eat chocolates he was carrying with him.
The 73-year-old Mukherjee got the much-needed break when Speaker Somnath Chatterjee adjourned the Lok Sabha for 10 minutes after a member of Parliament Virendra Kumar, the Janata Dal (Secular) member from Kerala, complained of breathlessness.
Sweet relief: Stand-in finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
The associate, who didn’t want to be identified, said Mukherjee had checked his blood pressure and sugar levels before leaving for Parliament to present the interim budget.
“Although his blood pressure was normal, the sugar level was low. So he carried chocolates with him,” he added.
Mukherjee, who drank a lot of water during his speech, was feeling uneasy due to the low sugar level, the associate said. When Chatterjee adjourned the proceedings, Mukherjee was relieved.
A concerned Congress president Sonia Gandhi immediately sent him a note asking if he wanted more chocolates. Mukherjee told her he was carrying enough chocolates.
Mukherjee is India’s acting finance minister and has been in-charge of the ministry ever since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underwent a heart bypass surgery that has put him out of action at least till the end of February. The last time Mukherjee presented a budget was 25 years ago—in 1984 . He was then 48 years old.