After the hurly-burly of politics, a new journey for Pranab

Pranab Mukherjee

Capping a 45-year-long run in government and politics, Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday embarked on a new and momentous journey as the country's 13th President putting behind political affiliations and who could play a crucial role in the next Lok Sabha elections due in 2014.

Reaching the pinnacle of his career and away from the hurly-burly of politics, the 76-year-old Congressman from West Bengal, often called a 'man for all seasons', is variously described as a walking encyclopedia, chronicler of Congress history, expert in matters of the Constitution and governance and a stickler for rules in Parliament.

Renowned for his negotiation skills, the UPA's little big man was till recently the troubleshooter of the ruling alliance, a task Mukherjee handled for the last eight years. The seasoned politician will now bring to the top Constitutional post his rich and varied experience.

Fondly known as 'Poltu' in his younger days, it has been a long journey for Mukherjee, from a humble village in West Bengal, to the seat of power in Raisina Hill and he could assume a crucial role in the next general elections.

Not an established lawyer by training but considered an expert in the working of the Constitution and governance, he was ever seen as the perennial 'No 2' in the government.

Mukherjee, who will be away from the rough and tumble of politics, was a utility man from the days of Indira Gandhi, when he was the powerful Minister of State for Revenue during the Emergency, and later as Finance Minister in the 80s. He was also the External Affairs Minister in the 90s.

His rise had been steady and such valuable was his contribution to the government that his nomination as a Presidential candidate came after a huge dilemma for Congress party, which heads the UPA coalition that has moved from crisis to crisis in the last eight years.

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