The long walk from Birbhum to the Raisina Hill
A rare politician
A rare politician who has never been a mass leader but who has commanded the attention of the nation, Pranab Mukherjee, who walked nine km to the village school, has bypassed all to reach the Rashtrapati Bhavan in after nearly five decades in politics.
That Mukherjee will become the 13th President of the country was not surprising but what was surprising is the patience, dedication and sacrifice of this dhoti-clad and short “Bangali Bhadrolok” (Bengali Gentleman), who literally rose like a phoenix from the ashes to make it to Raisina Hill.
Born in a Bengali middle-class family in 1936, in Birbhum district Pranab led a frugal live in his early years and walked a few miles to village school because his father Damodar Ranjan Mukherjee, a staunch Gandhian and a freedom fighter constantly shuttled between jail and home.
Pranab, who holds Master of Arts degrees in history and political science and has a degree in law from the University of Calcutta started his career as a college-lecturer and later as a journalist. He worked for noted Bengali publication “Desher Dak” (Call of Motherland) and later became trustee of Bangiya Sahitya Parishad and the president of Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan.
Married to Suvra Mukherjee on July 13, 1957, Pranab has two sons, Abhijit and Indrajit and a daughter, Sarmistha, a well known classical dancer. Abhijit said: “As a father and guardian he was very affectionate but very strict at the same time. During my hostel days when I came home, most of the time I found my father sitting with official files or engaged in politics. “There was a beautiful understanding between my parents. My mother handled most of the household work allowing my father to carry on with his political career,” Abhijit recalled.
“I can recall that on some occasion my father used to sit with us and speak about the nation, the history and the political development of the country. He had a dream to see India on the top. He was crazy about his dream and sacrificed his personal gains for the country,” he added.