President, Vice President and PM Modi pay their last respects to former President Pranab Mukherjee

RSTV Bureau

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid their last respects to former President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday morning.

Several dignitaries paid a visit to the former President’s residence at 10, Rajaji Marg to pay their homage. Pranab Mukherjee’s  last rites will be conducted at the Lodi Road crematorium in the afternoon.

The Centre has announced a seven-day State Mourning. The State Mourning will be held from August 31 to September 6 and the national flag will fly at half-mast on buildings across India.

Following COVID-19 protocols such as maintaining social social distancing and wearing masks, former prime minister Manmohan Singh,Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, BJP chief J P Nadda, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and several Union ministers such as Nirmala Sitharaman and Harsh Vardhan were among those who paid homage to him. Leaders paid floral tributes to a photo of Mukherjee, while his remains were kept in another room.

Besides the ‘VIPs’, workers of various parties and the general public stood in long queues maintaining social distancing, wearing masks and carrying bouquets as they waited patiently to catch a glimpse of Pranab Mukherjee for one last time.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane, Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh visited the late president’s home to condole his death.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, CPI general secretary D Raja and BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia were also there to pay their respect to a man who had spent more than five decades in public life and was admired as a “consensus builder”.

Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Goel said Mukherjee never differentiated between leaders of ruling party and the Opposition. “He was an excellent politician, orator… For the Congress, he was the helmsman.

He won the the hearts of everyone. Our prime minister respected him so much, one can imagine, how important he was for the country. He was a true Bharat Ratna,” Vijay Goel told reporters.

Pranab Mukherjee was admitted to the Research and Referral Hospital on August 10 and was operated for a removal of a clot in the brain the same day. He also tested positive for COVID-19 during his admission and was being treated for a lung infection.

The statesman and scholar, known for his encyclopaedic memory and sharp intellect, served as the country’s first citizen from 2012 to 2017. In 1982, he became India’s youngest finance minister when he was just 47. In the years that followed, he served as India’s minister for External Affairs, Defence, Finance and Commerce and was the first Indian president to have done so.

Pranab Mukherjee had the distinction of serving three prime ministers as minister — Indira Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh and was the party’s trusted Man Friday as it evolved over the decades.

The seven-time parliamentarian was also India’s only non-prime minister who was leader of the Lok Sabha for eight years. He was also leader of the Rajya Sabha from 1980-85.

Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure as president will stand out for the tough stance he took on mercy petitions. Of the 34 mercy petitions presented to him, he rejected 30

Pranab Mukherjee served as the 13th President of India from July 25, 2012 to 25 July 2017.

“With a Heavy Heart, this is to inform you that my father Shri Pranab Mukherjee has just passed away in spite of the best efforts of Doctors of RR Hospital and prayers duas and prarthanas from people throughout India! I thank all of You Folded hands,” his son Abhijit Mukherjee tweeted the news of the former President’s demise.