Pranab Mukherjee faced and triumphed over several challenges during his eventful five decades in public life. His passing has left a void in our public life; he was a consummate politician with multifaceted contributions to his credit. Pranab da is entitled to a certain space in the history of post-Independence India.
After he laid down the highest office of our country in 2017, I had a few meetings with Pranab da. Though I had a fairly good idea of his multifaceted personality, my personal interactions revealed much more than I knew of him. His deep understanding of our country, including its history and evolution and the current and future challenges, was amazing. 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. In his death, the country has lost a statesman at a critical time.
On a couple of times, when I had run into tough situations presiding over the Rajya Sabha, he called to put me at ease. His thoughtful gestures were comforting and useful. His sage words will remain in my memory. I often quoted him in the House, urging members to “debate, discuss and decide” and not disrupt proceedings.