Former President Pranab Mukherjee Conferred Bharat Ratna

Mukherjee was conferred the Bharat Ratna, along with Late Bhupen Hazarika and Late Nanaji Deshmukh.

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Former President Pranab Mukherjee was conferred India’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, by President Ram Nath Kovind on 8 August.

The 83-year-old political veteran’s career has spanned five decades, during which he served as the thirteenth president from 2012-2017 and as the Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012, among other key posts.

Mukherjee was born on 11 December 1935 in West Bengal. His career started as a lecturer and a journalist. He joined the Congress in 1970 and soon became one of Indira Gandhi’s trusted lieutenants.

In the post-Indira era, Mukherjee broke away from the Congress and formed his own party called the Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress in West Bengal. But he later sorted out his differences with Rajiv Gandhi and merged his party back with the Congress in 1989.

Upon his return to the party, his stature only grew. He became the Head of Planning Commission in 1991 and then the Foreign Minister in the Congress government led by PV Narasimha Rao. Many believe that Mukherjee was instrumental in establishing Sonia Gandhi as the head of the Congress party in 1998.

When Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came back to power in 2004, Mukherjee joined Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet as the Defence Minister. He was later made the Minister of External Affairs in 2006 and went on to become the finance minister in 2009, in the UPA-2 cabinet.

In July 2012, Pranab Mukherjee became the president of India. He completed his five-year term in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. After the end of his term as president, ‘Pranab da’ accepted an invitation to attend an event organised by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – an organisation whose ideology is in stark contrast to his political beliefs.

His move was criticised by many, including his daughter Sharmishtha Mukherjee.

Irrespective of the controversies, Pranab Mukherjee will always be remembered for his statesmanship and contribution to Indian politics.

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