NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called former President Pranab Mukherjee a “father figure”+ before, but on Mukherjee’s last day as President, he sent him a letter that expressed his profound admiration for him much beyond that.
The PM told Mukherjee he was more than moved that the two of them “were able to work together with synergy” despite different political ideologies having shaped them. He talked of Mukherjee’s “intellectual prowess” and his deep “insights on various subjects” helping the government and him personally. And he delivered to Mukherjee the highest compliment possible for a politician, when he said that for theformer President+ , “politics was simple a means to selflessly give back to society” by placing the “well being of the nation over everything else.”
Mukherjee, who said those words “touched” his “heart”, has shared PM Modi’s letter to him letter on Twitter.
“You have been so warm, affectionate and caring to me. Your one phone call asking me ‘I hope you are taking care of your health’ was enough to fill me with fresh energy, after a long day of meetings or on a campaign tour,” wrote the PM.
He talked of Mukherjee’s “wisdom, guidance and personal warmth” being a beacon of light that inspired confidence and strength. Those traits, combined with the former President’s “strength of intellect”, thanks to his being a “repository of knowledge” in a wide range of subjects, led Mukherjee to the quality the PM most admired him for, it appears.
That quality? Mukherjee’s spirit of bipartisanship, which helped him lend gravitas to the non-political but crucial constitutional responsibilities of being President of the country.
“Pranab da, our political journeys took shape in different political parties. Our ideologies, at times, have been different….Yet, such is the strength of your intellect and wisdom that we were able to work together with synergy,” PM Modi wrote.
The PM has firsthand experience of this synergy. After all, Modi inherited Mukherjee in 2014, when he and the BJP-led NDA won the Lok Sabha election. Mukherjee, a Congress party veteran, had won the Presidential election as a nominee of the Congress and the UPA, which have a vastly differing ideology from that of the BJP. But that ideological gulf never stymied the PM-President relationship.
For that, the PM lavished praise on Mukherjee in his letter.
“During your political journey and your presidiency , you placed the well being of the nation over everything else…you belong to a generation of leaders for whom politics was simply a means to give back to society…India will always be proud of you, a President who was a humble public servant and an exceptional leader.”