Pranab Mukherjee, the elder statesman of Indian politics, has died at 84. The former President of India, who had tested positive for coronavirus, had been in coma after a brain surgery earlier this month.
“With a Heavy Heart , this is to inform you that my father Shri Pranab Mukherjee has just passed away inspite of the best efforts of Doctors of RR Hospital and prayers, duas and prarthanas from people throughout India ! I thank all of You,” his son Abhijit Mukherjee tweeted.
The Centre has announced seven days of state mourning for the former President.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to pay tribute, saying he was blessed to have Pranab Mukherjee’s guidance since he took office.
“India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna 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,” the PM said in tweets. “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,” he wrote.
This morning, the army hospital in Delhi had reported a decline in the former President’s condition. He had gone into septic shock due to his lung infection, the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital had said.
Mr Mukherjee was admitted to hospital on August 10 and had surgery the same day for the removal of a clot in the brain. He had tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital. “On a visit to the hospital for a separate procedure, I have tested positive for COVID-19 today. I request the people who came in contact with me in the last week, to please self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19,” he had posted.
He developed a lung infection and a renal dysfunction over the past few days, according to doctors. Last week, the hospital said Mr Mukherjee’s “renal parameters are slightly deranged”.
In the past few weeks, there had been an outpouring of get-well-soon wishes from politicians across parties for the veteran, who was minister of finance, defence and external affairs in several governments until he took the country’s highest post.
Mr Mukherjee was President of India from 2012 to 2017.
The former President’s daughter and Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee, in a tweet, had remembered this time last year when he had received the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour.
“Last year August 8 was one of the happiest days for me as my dad received Bharat Ratna. Exactly a year later on August 10 he fell critically ill. May God do whatever is best for him and give me strength to accept both joys and sorrows of life with equanimity. I sincerely thank all for their concerns,” she had posted.