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Pranab Mukherjee: Former Indian president dies aged 84

Former president of India Pranab Mukherjee, who served in multiple Cabinets over five decades in politics, has died at the age of 84.

He was president from 2012 to 2017, at the end of a long period when his Congress party held power.

The office is largely ceremonial in India, with executive powers resting with the prime minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to him on Twitter, saying he “left an indelible mark on the development trajectory of our nation”.

Mukherjee was a college teacher in West Bengal state before first running for public office in 1969.

He became a protege of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was loyal to her during the Internal Emergency she had proclaimed from 1975 to 1977 when elections were suspended and civil liberties were curbed. Many of her opponents were imprisoned.

He lost his position as finance minister after Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 and her son Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister.

Mukherjee formed his own party but later reconciled with Rajiv Gandhi and returned to the Congress party in 1989.

After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, Mukherjee joined the Cabinets of his successors, P.V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.

Mukherjee was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 2019.

He had been in poor health since having emergency surgery for a blood clot on his brain on August 10, after falling. Doctors said he tested positive for COVID-19 after the surgery, and he remained in a coma.

He is survived by two sons and a daughter.

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