Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has passed away at the age of 84, his family said.
Mukherjee died of multiple organ failure on Monday after being admitted to hospital weeks ago, having also contracted coronavirus.
A veteran politician who served as foreign and finance minister in previous administrations, Mukherjee was in a deep coma and on ventilator support after coming down with a lung infection.
“His demise is passing of an era,” the office of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said in a Twitter post.
‘A colossus in public life’
The Bengal-origin politician was a protege of former premier Indira Gandhi and was a member of her cabinet when she suspended democratic rights in the infamous “Emergency” of 1975-77.
Mukherjee’s star waned after Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 when he was a rival to her son and heir Rajiv Gandhi for leadership of the Congress party.
He became Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s right-hand-man during his decade in power from 2004-14, serving as defence, foreign and finance minister, winning a cross-party reputation as a skilled negotiator.
However, Mukherjee’s performance as finance minister was criticised for his failure to push through economic liberalisation measures.
In 2012 he moved away from active politics and assumed the largely ceremonial role of president, serving a five-year term until 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from the arch-rival nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said Mukherjee “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,” Modi said on Twitter.
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