Pranab Mukherjee, the newly-elected President of India, first entered Parliament in 1969. Four years later, he was appointed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as the Deputy Minister for Industrial Development. Since then he has been a part of almost every Congress-led government at the Centre.
The 76-year-old has been the party's main trouble-shooter for years. On several occasions, he won over recalcitrant allies and also convinced the opposition parties to toe the government line whenever a consensus was needed in the national interest.
Actually it was Pranab's political skills plus his remarkable knowledge of parliamentary affairs and economic issues that motivated the UPA to choose him as their presidential candidate.
Humble beginnings in Birbhum:
The son of Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee and Rajlakshmi was born in Mirati village that falls in West Bengal's Birbhum district on Dec 11, 1935. Pranab's father, a Congress activist, was sent to jail several times by the British for actively participating in the freedom struggle.
Pranab passed out of the Suri Vidyasagar College with MA in History and Political Science. He also obtained an LLB from the University of Calcutta.
He joined as a clerk in the office of the Deputy Accountant-General (Post and Telegraph) at Calcutta and then took up teaching as a profession. Pranab worked as a journalist, at Desher Dak, and as a lawyer too before becoming a Rajya Sabha member.
Just one mistake in over five decades:
In his long political career, only once did Pranab put a foot wrong. That was on Oct 31, 1984. Immediately after Indira Gandhi was shot dead by two of her bodyguards, he suggested that the senior most person should be the caretaker Prime Minister till the Congress Parliamentary Party elects Rajiv Gandhi.
Pranab had to pay for this 'dissent'. He was suspended from the ruling party and could make a comeback only after Rajiv's assassination.
During the tenure of PV Narasimha Rao as the PM, Pranab served as the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission. In 2004, Manmohan Singh made him the Defence Minister.
Two years later, Pranab was assigned the External Affairs portfolio. In 2009, he assumed charge as Union Finance Minister. However, he quit in Jun 2012 to contest the Presidential election.
Unlike most politicians, Pranab is not superstitious. Ignoring the warnings of well-wishers, he has continued live at 13, Talkatora Road till date. Incidentally, Pranab tied the nuptial knot on Jul 13, 1957. He and wife Suvra have a daughter Sarmishta and two sons, Abhijit and Indrajit.