Pranab Mukherjee death: Former Indian president dies aged 84 after testing positive for coronavirus

FORMER Indian president Pranab Mukherjee has died at the age of 84, his family confirmed.

Mukherjee had emergency surgery for a blood clot in his brain on August 10 at New Delhis Army Hospital Research and Referral after suffering a fall.

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The hospital said he also tested positive for COVID-19 after the surgery and his condition was critical.

He remained in a coma after the operation and later suffered septic shock after developing a lung infection.

The hospital said his health began declining on Monday.

His son, former politician Abhijeet Mukherjee, announced the news of his father's death on Monday evening local time.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who leads the rival Bharatiya Janata Party, tweeted that Mukherjee left an indelible mark on the development of India.

"He made the president's house a centre of learning, innovation, culture, science and literature. His wise counsel on key policy matters will never be forgotten by me," he said.

'PASSING OF AN ERA'

"I was new to Delhi in 2014. From day one, I was blessed to have the guidance, support and blessings of Shri Pranab Mukherjee."

Mr Mukherjee's successor, Ram Nath Kovind, said his death marked the "passing of an era".

Mukherjee was president from 2012 to 2017, at the end of a long period when the Congress party held power.

The office is largely ceremonial in India, with executive powers resting with the prime minister.

Before that, he had been minister of finance, defence and foreign affairs for three separate prime ministers and helped manage their fractious governing coalitions.

Among his achievements was his pivotal role in helping the India-US nuclear agreement to pass.

Mukherjee was a college teacher in West Bengal state before first running for public office in 1969.

He became a protege of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was loyal to her during the Internal Emergency she had proclaimed from 1975 to 1977, when elections were suspended and civil liberties were curbed.

Many of her opponents were imprisoned.

He lost his position as finance minister after Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 and her son Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister.

Mukherjee formed his own party but later reconciled with Rajiv Gandhi and returned to the Congress party in 1989.

After Rajiv Gandhis assassination in 1991, Mukherjee joined the Cabinets of his successors, P.V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.

He served as president until 2017 and stepped away from politics the same year citing health concerns.

Mukherjee was awarded Indias highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 2019.

He is survived by two sons and a daughter. His wife died in 2015.

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