New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) The Congress Monday bid farewell to its presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee with glowing praise from leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party president Sonia Gandhi, at a specially convened meeting of the party’s working committee.
The informal Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting saw some emotional moments with members recalling Mukherjee’s long contribution to the party and the government and telling the senior leader that he will be missed.
While Manmohan Singh said Mukherjee’s absence will be felt, Sonia Gandhi said he was a very capable candidate for presidency.
She said Mukherjee was not only presidential choice of the United Progressive Alliance but his candidature has got support from other political parties outside the ruling alliance as well.
Mukherjee, a key troubleshooter of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, will demit office as the finance minister Tuesday and file his nomination papers for the presidential contest June 28.
Describing Mukherjee as the senior-most member of the CWC – the party’s apex decision-making body – Sonia Gandhi said she was happy that he was “not only the Congress candidate but also the unanimous choice of the UPA”.
Gandhi hoped Mukherjee will record an overwhelming victory and expressed her gratitude to parties supporting his candidature.
Manmohan Singh said that Mukherjee enjoyed wide respect in the government.
“We will feel his absence,” the prime minister said.
Mukherjee told the meeting he always treated himself as a Congressman and “did all that I could have done.”
“Whatever I did for the party, I got back in greater measure from it.”
He expressed his gratitude to former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi besides Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi also recalled Mukherjee’s long association with the party in his brief interaction with reporters and said he had learnt from the senior leader.
“We learn from him,” Rahul Gandhi told reporters.
In his nearly four decades’ work in the Congress, Mukherjee has held varied organisational responsibilities, including of treasurer, party general secretary and chief of party’s West Bengal unit. He also held diverse ministerial responsibilities.
In the UPA government, Mukherjee headed many groups of ministers and played a crucial role in breaking the impasse with the opposition in parliament.
As Leader of House in the Lok Sabha, Mukherjee convened several all-party meetings on issues ranging from opposition’s demand for joint parliamentary committee probe into 2G spectrum allocation to Foreign Direct Investment in retail.
Partymen hold Mukherjee in high esteem for his sharp sense of history, photographic memory of events and eye for detail. Mukherjee first became a member of CWC in 1978 and a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1969.
Senior leaders A.K. Antony, Motilal Vora, S.C. Jamir and R.K. Dhawan were among those who lauded Mukherjee’s contribution and wished him a good future.
Of the 36 CWC members and permanent invitees called for the meeting six were not present. They included party general secretaries Ghulam Nabi Azad, Digvijay Singh and party MP Karan Singh.
Party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who briefed the media, said the leaders not present had given prior information to the party.
The Daily News Post India (tdnpost)