Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 October 2020

Sheikh Khalifa extends sympathies following death of former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee

India mourned the death of Mukherjee, who had suffered a blood clot and was found in hospital to have Covid-19

Tributes have been paid to former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee following his death at the age of 84. EPA    
Tributes have been paid to former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee following his death at the age of 84. EPA    

President Sheikh Khalifa has expressed his sympathies following the death of former Indian president, Pranab Mukherjee.

Sheikh Khalifa sent his condolences to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind after his predecessor died at the age of 84.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also delivered messages of support to President Kovind and Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Mukherjee, a senior leader of India’s Congress party, had emergency surgery for a blood clot in his brain on August 10 and tested positive for Covid-19 following surgery at New Delhi’s Army Hospital Research and Referral.

He remained in a coma after the procedure and the hospital said his health declined on Monday after a lung infection resulted in septic shock.

His son, former lawmaker Abhijeet Mukherjee, tweeted on Monday evening that he had died.

Mukherjee enjoyed a political career spanning five decades and served as India’s 13th president from 2012 until 2017.

Mr Modi, who leads the rival Bharatiya Janata Party, paid warm tribute to Mukherjee on Twitter, saying he “left an indelible mark on the development trajectory” of India.

“His wise counsel on key policy matters will never be forgotten by me,” Mr Modi said.

The presidential office in India is largely ceremonial, with executive power lying in the hands of the prime minister.

Mukherjee also held the positions of minister of finance, defence and foreign affairs for three separate prime ministers during a distinguished career.

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

Mukherjee was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 2019.

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

His death comes as India grapples with a surge in Covid-19 cases, which has had a significant impact on the country’s economy.

The nation of more than 1.3 billion people has recorded the third-highest number of coronavirus infections since the outbreak began.

As on Tuesday, India has reported close to 3.7 million cases, while more than 65,000 have died.

On Sunday, India set the record for the highest single-day increase in cases with 78,761.

The outbreak has badly hit megacities such as financial hub Mumbai and the capital New Delhi, but is now also surging in smaller cities and rural areas.

India’s economy shrank by nearly a quarter between April and June, much more than forecast as analysts called for further stimulus.

Lockdown measures are slowly being eased to help reinvigorate the economy.

The Home Affairs Ministry said gatherings of up to 100 people would be allowed at cultural, entertainment, sports and political events from next month, with precautions such as wearing face masks and social distancing in place.

Metro train services would also resume “in a graded manner” in major cities.

Schools remain closed but pupils can meet teachers on a voluntary basis on school premises if needed, according to the guidelines.

Updated: September 1, 2020 06:14 PM

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