Monday, February 6, 2023

The old-school Chanakya of Indian politics leaves us


He was the man who spoke English with a regional accent like any other country-side Indian. And he was also the man who had drafted some of the most important documents, in wonderful English of course, for his party Indian National Congress as well as for the country.

Pranab Mukherjee, the wily negotiator, great political designer and non-confrontational Bhadra Lok politician is no more with us. He led a fulfilling life and has left us with some less wisdom and some less maturity.

He was an old-school politician and perhaps somewhat misfit for modern times. He left his imprint on Indian politics deeply and had almost become the Prime Minister of India after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

After a brief falling out with Congress, he returned to the party fold. After Rajiv Gandhi was made the Prime Minister of India in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Pranab da felt humiliated and he quit the party and formed Rashtriya Samajwadi Congress.

The new party did not do much, and he had to later merge it with Congress after a reconciliation with Rajiv Gandhi in 1989.

He remained the principal troubleshooter for Congress presidents – Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi – for a long time.

He was also a politician who was respected across the board. He also had perhaps equally cordial relations with opposition leaders too.

Later, he became the President of India, which is no less an achievement.

He was a quintessential Bhadra Lok, who spoke softly and prepared his drafts shrewdly.

However, he was wise and bold enough to call out the moment someone crossed a boundary.

The well-known journalist Rajdeep Sardesai was once taught a lesson when he tried to take liberties with the soft-spoken Pranab Mukherjee, who was also an ex-President at the time.

Pranab Mukherjee will be missed by Indian politics for a long time.

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