Former President Pranab Mukherjee will be honoured with India’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna by President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday. Mukherjee’s life-long political career spanned about five decades, during which he held various key posts in the Congress as well as in the governments led by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.
The 83-year-old served as India’s 13th President from 2012-2017, but prior to his election to the post, Mukherjee also served as the Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012. As Finance Minister, Mukherjee signed the letter appointing Manmohan Singh as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Born on December 11, 1935, in a Bengali family in Mirati, a village in Birbhum district in West Bengal, Mukherjee completed his Masters in Political Science and History and LLB degree from University of Calcutta.
After being selected for India’s highest civilian award, former President, popularly known as ‘Pranab Da’, had expressed his gratitude on being conferred with the Bharat Ratna saying “I’ve received much more from the people and from this country than I have given to it”.
“I would like to express my deep gratitude to the people of this country…At the same time, with all humility, I accept this honour. I have conveyed my appreciation by talking to the President of the Republic. I also convey my deepest gratitude to the people of this country,” he had told media on January 26.
Political leaders across party lines had also wished Mukherjee when his name was announced for Bharat Ratna in January, this year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had congratulated Mukherjee for his decades of service to the country. “Pranab Da is an outstanding statesman of our times. He has served the nation selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation’s growth trajectory. His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna,” he had tweeted.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too had congratulated Mukherjee. “Congratulations to Pranab Da on being awarded the Bharat Ratna! The Congress party takes great pride in the fact that the immense contribution to public service, nation-building of one of our own, has been recognised, honoured,” he had tweeted.
The announcement for Bharat Ratna was made on January 25 in a statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which also said the award would be given posthumously to social activist Nanaji Deshmukh and noted Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika.
The other Presidents, who had been conferred the Bharat Ratna include Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Rajendra Prasad, Zakir Hussain and V.V. Giri.