How can I ever forget those days when India was brutally stabbed in the back by the Pakistani invader General Pervez Musharraf by inflicting Kargil war on us and we lost more than 600 soldiers as per official figures and I too lost my child friend late Captain Amit Verma who was just 24 and was the only child of his family and whose father was also an Army Officer and retired as Colonel? We all know how Captain Saurav Kalia was brutally tortured for 23 days and he along with 5 soldiers of 4 Jat Regiment were maimed of all their crucial body parts before finally killing them yet our leaders felt over excited to see Pakistani invader Gen Musharraf in India walking like a “royal king” with Indian politicians attending him like durbaris! Even many BJP leaders appeared too excited!
When all the Indian politicians were busy chanting “Pervez, Pervez, Musharraf, Musharraf” and “Lagta Hai bada pyara nahin dikta hai bada pyara, mahin rota hain bada pyara nahin sota hain bada pyara, Musharraf jab chalta hain jab to dekho, Musharraf jab dekhta hain jab to dekho, Musharraf jab rota hain jab to dekho etc etc” and were all united cutting across party lines in according him a grand welcome in India as we saw when he held talks in Agra with the then Deputy PM LK Advani, there was only one politician whom I saw lashing out at Gen Musharraf whose name is Pranab Mukherjee! Pranab lashed out openly and that too in presence of many VVIP dignitaries and Ambika Soni who is also a Congress leader could not believe her eyes as her facial expression spoke for herself feeling totally shocked as to what is he saying when he said that, “How can terrorists be termed as “freedom fighters” and how can terrorism be termed as “freedom struggle” by Gen Musharraf? Why are we according him such a grand welcome?” I still find it hard to believe that a Congress leader can lash out so hard against Pakistani invader like Gen Musharraf who candidly admitted masterminding Kargil war and of entering 15-16 km inside Indian territory to motivate his soldiers to kill our soldiers most ruthlessly as we saw with Captain Kalia and 5 soldiers!
Pranab spoke nothing but the brutal truth and this alone explains why “powerful lobby” ensured that he never became PM! It is not Pranab Mukherjee’s misfortune but India’s misfortune that he could not become PM! But still we must be satisfied that at least he became the President and he always enjoyed good equations with leaders of all parties! I hold the late PM Rajeev Gandhi in highest esteem as I grew up watching him in my young days but certainly when her mother late Mrs Indira Gandhi died, it was Pranab who was best suited to the job as he held the prestigious post of Finance minister also and he was ruthlessly sidelined and he still like a loyal worker said nothing which speaks how much patience he had!
As if this was not enough, he was again sidelined when Congress led by Mrs Sonia Gandhi decided to make Dr Manmohan Singh as PM even though earlier he was boss of Dr Manmohan when he was RBI Governor! Yet he tolerated everything quietly and behaved like a disciplined soldier of his party! All this can never be ignored! He had the potential to lead India and to give a tough response to the likes of Pakistani invader Gen Musharraf but alas that was not to be! Still he rendered his invaluable contribution in various capacities like Finance Minister, External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister apart from other key portfolios like Commerce!
This alone explains why PM Narendra Modi on becoming PM in 2014 sought blessings from him as he was President since 2012 with huge experience and he was gracious enough to bless him! He never shied away from giving free and fair advice whenever sought by PM Modi which the latter acknowledges also! India has lost the most precious gem by his passing away!
It was Pranab Mukherjee who ensured that terrorists were no longer given long rope and Afzal Guru who was convicted for the attack on Parliament in 2001 was hanged by rejecting his mercy petition! Similarly, Ajmal Kasab who was caught alive while killing innocent in Bombay during the dreaded 26/11 terror attacks was also hanged, all because of Pranab Mukherjee’s strong decision! He had zero tolerance for terrorists and never hesitated to take his own individual stand on terror issues which affect our national security and was deadly against declaring any kind of ceasefire with terrorists and terror groups who mercilessly kill innocents not sparing even woman and children, what to talk about others!
Ram Nath Kovind who himself is now President too said while remembering Pranab that, “Sad to hear that former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee is no more… A colossus in public life, he served Mother India with the spirit of a sage.” M Venkaiah Naidu who is now Vice President while remembering Pranab said that, “At the end of every meeting, I used to walk away with an impression that he was nothing short of an encyclopedia. His number crunching ability and sharp memory at his age was bewildering.” PM Narendra Modi too candidly acknowledged that, “As India’s President, Pranab Mukherjee made Rashtrapati Bhavan even more accessible to common citizens.” Amit Shah who is Home Minister too rightly said that, “Pranab Da’s life will always be cherished for his impeccable service and indelible contribution to our motherland. His demise has left a huge void in Indian polity.”
No wonder, he won many awards in his life. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2008 and most remarkably was awarded by the NDA government with Bharat Ratna which is the highest civilian honour of India in 2019 which naturally filled not just him and his family but also all his fans and supporters with supreme happiness! He always spoke with humility and it was only once in a blue moon that he lost his cool as we saw when the Pakistani invader Gen Musharraf was invited to India like a royal emperor and that too after masterminding Kargil war! This alone explains why he had friends in almost every party!
Even former PM Dr Manmohan Singh too candidly acknowledges that, “In his death, our country has lost one of the greatest leaders of independent India. He and I worked very closely in the government of India and I depended on him a great deal for his wisdom, vast knowledge and experience and public affairs.” Congress President Sonia Gandhi too acknowledged that, “Pranabda had been such an integral and prominent part of normal life, the Congress party and the central government for over five decades that it is hard to imagine how we can do without his wisdom..”
All those Congress leaders who keep shamelessly comparing RSS with terror organizations like Hizbul among others must pity themselves! Why Pranab attended RSS meeting in June 2018 in its headquarters in Nagpur if it is a terror organization even before his death? Let Congress leaders not forget that at that event organized by RSS, Pranab had talked about the celebration of diversity and tolerance and underlined how India’s identity had taken shape after a “long-drawn process of confluence, assimilation and co-existence”. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat himself described Pranab Mukherjee as a “guide for the Sangh who didn’t believe in political untouchability”.
It is high time and all those Congress leaders must now really stop fooling themselves who term “RSS” on same footing as “Hizbul” and “other terror organizations” and instead be more tolerant like “Pranabda” who always respected even his worst political opponents! The earlier they do this, the better it shall be for their long term political interests also! It is the top leadership of Congress which must understand this best as it is they who call the shots and decide everything as to what will be the official stand of Congress on such key issues!
Born in Mirati which is a village in undivided Bengal on December 11, 1935, he entered Parliament in 1969. He is a former college teacher with degrees in political science and history (a Masters) and law. He became a protégé to the then PM Indira Gandhi and remained loyal to her even during the Emergency. As he was sidelined after Indira’s death, he felt exasperated and formed his own party but returned to the Congress after reconciliation with Rajiv Gandhi who realized that some of his close advisers had fed him wrong information on Pranab and he was “a man of strong character”! I am sure that if he was there in Rajiv Gandhi’s Cabinet, Congress would not have lost and would have again won as he knew the art of governing India! He worked commendably with former PM Narasimha Rao as also with former PM Dr Manmohan Singh!
Most pleasing to note that the government has announced a seven day of state mourning for Pranab! During this period, the national flag will fly at half mast on all buildings throughout India, where it is flown regularly, and there will be no official entertainment. This he deserves also being the former President of India! It is Pranab who had tried to bring back the ashes of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose from Renkoji Temple in Tokyo even though he could not succeed!
I have just no hesitation to say from my heart that even God must also definitely salute Pranab Mukherjee as he lived the most exemplary life and never hesitated in calling a spade a spade as we saw in the case of Pakistani invader Gen Musharraf! His absence will be always felt in India! But we all can certainly always strive to follow his good ideals and love our motherland more than anything else just like him! There can just be no denying it!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh