NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed profound admiration for former President Pranab Mukherjee and referred to him as a "father figure" and his "mentor".
On the last day of Mukherjee's Presidency, Modi said in a letter to him that his (Mukherjee's) "wisdom, guidance and personal warmth" had always given him great confidence and strength.
The letter was shared by Mukherjee on Twitter on Thursday. Mukherjee said the letter "touched my heart!"
Modi responded: "Pranab Da, I will always cherish working with you."
In the letter, Modi said: "I came to New Delhi as an outsider. The task before me was huge and challenging. In these times, you have always been a father figure and a mentor to me."
Modi said the former President was always warm, affectionate and caring towards him.
"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 of meetings or on a campaign tour."
Modi told Mukherjee that despite their different political ideologies, such was the "strength" of the former President's "intellect and wisdom" that both "were able to work together with synergy".
He said he always marvelled at Mukherjee's insights on various subjects ranging from policy to politics, economics to external affairs and security issues to subjects of national and global importance.
"Your intellectual prowess has constantly helped my government and me.
"During your political journey and your presidency, you placed the well being of the nation over everything else... You belong to a generation of leaders for whom politics was simply a means to give back to society," Modi wrote.
He added: "Rashtrapatiji, it has been an honour to work with you as your Prime Minister."