Respected among friends and foes alike, Pranab Mukherjee, the
"most perfected politician of the current lot", will leave active
politics Tuesday marking the end of an illustrious career spanning
four decades in the Congress and government.
The redoubtable number two in the Manmohan Singh cabinet since
2004, Mukherjee has been the chief trouble shooter of the
Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
The fact that he heads 83 out of the 183 group of ministers adds
to his reputation for versatility, which few others can match.
Senior Congress leader Manishankar Aiyar said Mukherjee is unique
as he can be firm and yet reach out to his opponents.
"He could be firm not only with leaders of other parties but with
Congress leaders as well," Aiyar told IANS.
Another trait Aiyar finds remarkable in Mukherjee is his
"elephantine" memory on issues related to politics and governance.
The Bharatiya Janata Party too has nice words for him.
"Mukherjee is a seasoned politician and a good human being... he
is a dedicated Congressman," BJP's national vice president Mukhtar
Abbas Naqvi told IANS.
Mukherjee's father Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee, a Congress politician,
His political career started as a deputy minister for industrial
development in 1973 and he became the finance minister in 1982, a
post he holds currently.
His parliamentary career began in 1969 with a Rajya Sabha
membership and he was nominated to the upper house until 2004 when
he was elected to the Lok Sabha from West Bengal's Jangipur
The 76-year-old Mukherjee is a man of unparalleled experience and
has served as commerce, foreign, defence and finance ministers.
While the accolades have been many, there are some brickbats too.
According to senior journalist Kuldeep Nayar, Mukherjee served the
Congress well for over four decades but "the only blot on him was
when he, as union commerce minister, went along with former prime
minister Indira Gandhi, who declared emergency in 1975, and her
son Sanjay Gandhi, who had become an extra constitutional
Opinion on how Mukherjee as finance minister managed a slowing
down economy of late too is varied.
Nayar said Mukherjee failed as he became bereft of ideas in the
past two years while presenting the general budgets.
"He is leaving the economy in a mess," Nayar told IANS, adding "he
perhaps was thinking more about his presidency."
However, political commentator N. Bhaskara Rao described Mukherjee
as the most perfected politician among the existing lot across
parties as he understands national issues, can analyse them and
always found a solution to a political crisis."
"He was the most relied upon leader by the Congress while making
its strategy whether the party was in power or not," Rao told
Though Rao said his absence from the government would be worrying
for the Congress as the country is facing an economic crisis,
Aiyar said "the Congress is bigger than any individual and would
find a replacement of Mukherjee."