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Former President of India and Congress party veteran Pranab Mukherjee passed away on Monday at the age of 84. The veteran politician, who spent five decades in politics, had undergone brain surgery at Delhi's Army Research and Referral hospital. The hospital said his health began declining on Monday after a lung infection resulted in septic shock. Mukherjee, who had also tested positive for coronavirus, was admitted to the hospital on August 10.

"With a Heavy Heart, this is to inform you that my father Shri #PranabMukherjee has just passed away in spite of the best efforts of Doctors of RR Hospital & prayers, duas & prarthanas from people throughout India! I thank all of You," his son Abhijit Mukherjee tweeted.

Central government on Monday announced seven-day state mourning on demise of former president Pranab Mukherjee. During the state mourning, from 31 August to 6 September, national flag will fly at half-mast on buildings across India and there will be no official entertainment, said ministry of home affairs.

In his over five-decade long political career, Mukherjee held various Cabinet positions for the governments led by by Indira Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.

Fondly called 'Pranab Da' by his peers and friends, Mukherjee was born on December 11, 1935 in Birbhum district, West Bengal. He completed Masters in Political Science and History and LLB degree from University of Calcutta.

It all started when Indira Gandhi spotted him during a by-election in Midnapore where he was V.K. Krishna Menon’s election agent. His astute management saw Menon, a Malayali contesting in West Bengal as a candidate of Congress’ rival faction Bangla Congress, win with a huge margin.

Impressed with his political acumen, Gandhi brought Mukherjee into the Congress and initiated his parliamentary journey through the Rajya Sabha in 1969. Mukherjee first became the general secretary of the Congress in 1998. He was a member of the Congress Working Committee for 23 years. It’s a mixed bag legacy for the politician who won his first election in 2004 from Jangipur in West Bengal.

Mukherjee became India's youngest finance minister in 1982 at the age of 47. From 2004, he went on to head three crucial ministries — external affairs, defence and finance — and became the first occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan to have this distinction.

The 84-year-old served as India's 13th President from 2012-2017. A tough taskmaster, avid reader and history aficionado, Mukherjee ensured that he leaves his mark on the presidency. He made it easier for common people to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Pranab Mukherjee was honored with Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award in 2019.

Mukherjee was known to have generously shared his experience with others, cutting across party lines.

Political leaders across the sector offered their condolences to the bereaved family. "India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He has left an indelible mark on the development trajectory of our nation. A scholar par excellence, a towering statesman, he was admired across the political spectrum and by all sections of society," wrote Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

President Ram Nath Kovind said in a tweet, "The nation mourns losing one of its worthiest sons. Condolences to his family, friends & all citizens." Vice President Venkaiah Naidu also expressed grief. He said in a tweet, "He (Mukherjee) rose from humble beginnings to occupy the country’s highest constitutional position through hard work, discipline and dedication."

"With great sadness, the nation receives the news of the unfortunate demise of our former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee. I join the country in paying homage to him. My deepest condolences to the bereaved family and friends," former Congress President Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter.

"I express my grief at the passing away of our former president #PranabMukherjee. He was a very astute politician and a very knowledgable person. He always kept his professional life separate from the personal. He was an experienced administrator," said Om Birla, Lok Sabha speaker.


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