NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote an emotional letter to Pranab Mukherjee on the latter’s last day as President of India, calling Mukherjee a “father figure” and “mentor”. Sharing the letter with his followers on Thursday on his Twitter account, Mukherjee said the letter “touched” his heart. And within an hour, Modi responded by tweeting, “Pranab Da, I will always cherish working with you.”
In the letter, Modi expressed profound admiration for Mukherjee, saying, three years ago, he came to Delhi as an outsider and the task before him was huge and challenging but Mukherjee's support gave him guidance. Modi said, “In these times, you have always been a father figure and a mentor to me.” Modi said he was moved that the two of them “were able to work together with synergy” despite belonging to different political parties, despite having varied political experiences and different ideologies have shaped them. The letter said, “Our experiences are also varied. My administrative experience was from my state, whereas you have seen the expense of our national policy and politics for decades. Yet, such is the strength of your intellect and wisdom that we were able to work together with synergy.” Mukherjee retired as President last month.
The PM—who belongs to BJP-- also showered praises on the kind of politics practised by the veteran Congress leader, saying Mukherjee inspired India with his “simplicity, high principles and exemplary leadership.” Modi’s letter stated, “You belong to a generation of leaders for whom politics was simply a means to selflessly give back to society. You stand as a great source of inspiration for the people of India. India will always be proud of you, a President who was a humble public servant and an exceptional leader. Your legacy will continue to guide us.”
Referring to Mukherjee as the “repository of knowledge”, PM stated that Mukherjee’s “intellectual prowess” was a constant support for him and the government. The PM further said he always “marvelled” at Mukherjee’s deep “insights on various subjects which ranged from policy to politics, economics to external affairs, and security issues to subjects of national and international importance.”
Giving several compliments to Mukherjee, Modi also praised the now former president for opening the Rashtrapati Bhavan to initiatives and programmes that recognised innovation and the talent of India’s youth. In the letter which was dated July 24, Modi also recalled an instance when Mukherjee had asked the PM to take care of his health. Remembering that instance, Modi said, “You have been so warm, affectionate and caring to me. Your one phone call asking me ‘I hope you are taking care of your health’ was enough to fill me with fresh energy, after a long day at meetings or on a campaign tour.”
Concluding the letter, the prime minister said he and all others would continue to draw strength from Mukherjee’s democratic vision of “taking everybody along”. Modi ended by thanking Mukherjee and said, “Rashtrapati Ji, it has been an honour to work with you, as your Prime Minister.”