Scholar par excellence, towering statesman who always blessed me: PM’s tribute to Mukherjee

Expressing grief over former president Pranab Mukherjee’s demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday described him as a scholar par excellence and a towering statesman who was admired across the political spectrum.
Modi said Mukherjee has left an indelible mark on the nation’s development trajectory.
Mukherjee, 84, died on Monday in an army hospital here, his son Abhijit Mukherjee said. He was admitted to the hospital on August 10.
In a series of tweets, the prime minister said Mukherjee in his decades-long political journey made long-lasting contributions in key economic and strategic ministries and that he was an outstanding parliamentarian, always well-prepared, extremely articulate as well as witty.
The prime minister recalled that Mukherjee, as the then President when he became prime minister for the first time, always supported and guided him.
“I was new to Delhi in 2014. From Day 1, I was blessed to have the guidance, support and blessings of Shri Pranab Mukherjee. I will always cherish my interactions with him. Condolences to his family, friends, admirers and supporters across India. Om Shanti,” Modi said.
In his tweets, Modi also posted his pictures with Mukherjee, including one in which he is seen touching the then president’s feet.
As India’s President, Mukherjee made Rashtrapati Bhavan even more accessible to common citizens, Modi noted, adding that he made the President’s House “a centre of learning, innovation, culture, science and literature”.
His wise counsel on key policy matters will never be forgotten by him, the prime minister said.
“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,” he said.
Modi had developed a deep personal bond with Mukherjee after becoming the prime minister and often voiced his respect and admiration for the political stalwart.
At the launch of a book in Rashtrapati Bhawan in 2017, Modi had turned emotional while paying his respect to the then President and had said Mukherjee always cared for him like a father would for his son.
Modi had said at that time that he was fortunate that he could hold Mukherjee’s hand while trying to settle in Delhi.
Mukherjee, despite coming from an ideologically opposite background compared to the BJP’s saffron politics, ensured smooth working relations with the first Modi government, cementing his bond with the prime minister.
After he demitted office, he was accorded Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour, by the government.