(Rptg after adding to Dhankhar's tweet and correcting Bhunia's condolence) Kolkata, Aug 31 (PTI) Parties in West Bengal cutting across political lines Monday condoled the death of former president Pranab Mukherjee and said his demise brought down the curtains to a glorious political career and ended an era.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday expressed deep sorrow over the death and said with it 'an era has come to an end'.
She recollected her long association with Mukherjee, who was a two-time Congress MP from Jangipur Lok Sabha seat in Murshidabad district from 2004-2012 and extended her condolence to his son and daughter.
'It is with deep sorrow I write this. Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukherjee has left us. An era has ended. For decades he was a father figure. From my first win as MP to being my senior Cabinet colleague, to his becoming President while I was CM,' Banerjee said in a statement released from the state secretariat.
'So many memories. A visit to Delhi without Pranabda is unimaginable. He is a legend in all subjects from politics to economics. Will be forever grateful. Shall miss him immensely. My condolences to Abhijit & Sharmistha (Mukherjee's son and daughter),' she added.
Former West Bengal chief minister and senior CPI(M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, with whom Mukherjee shared a very cordial relationship, also condoled his death.
Mukherjee's death is a great loss for the country. He maintained cordial relations with political parties across the board, CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said.
Though Mukherjee as senior state Congress leader had played a key role in forging the TMC-Congress alliance in 2011 that led to the defeat of the 34-year old Left regime, he always shared a cordial relationship with communist patriarch Jyoti Basu, Somnath Chatterjee and Bhattacharjee.
Such was the affinity of the CPI(M) Bengal unit for Mukherjee that they decided to support him during the presidential polls in 2012 and also asked its central unit not to oppose his candidature.
His ability to reach out to politicians cutting across political lines helped him garner the support of CPI(M) and TMC from Bengal during the 2012 presidential polls.
In fact the 2012 presidential polls will go down in the history of politically volatile and polarised Bengal as one in which legislators of CPI(M), Congress and TMC voted unanimously BJP state president Dilip Ghosh condoled his death and said his demise has left a deep void in countrys political spectrum.
The Bengal Congress unit, which Mukherjee headed twice - once in 1985 for a three-year stint and again in 2000 for long eight years, remembered him as their favourite 'Pranabda' who stood by the state leaders through thick and thin.
'Pranabda was loved by all. He was like an elder brother to us. At times during the party meeting, if we came without proper preparation, he used to scold us. But the next moment, he was a caring elder brother, said Pradip Bhattacharya,' senior Congress MP.
Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha and Beharampore MP, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said Mukherjee was a 'precious jewel adorning the crown of India' for whom the interest of the nation was supreme.
'The sad demise of Former President of India Shri Pranab Mukherji is a remorseful moment for me. I have enjoyed a long association with him. He was an epitome of an institution who during his entire political carrier had been exhausting all his energies for the growth of the nation. The loss of a man of prodigious dimension is simply irretrievable,' Chowdhury said in a statement.
'He was by all his virtues a true statesman,' Chowdhury said.
West Bengal Governor Jadgeep Dhankhar condoled his death and said the nation has lost a great statesman.
'Deeply condole the death of former President Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukherjee. An era has come to an end. A colossus in public life has left us. He served Mother India with statesman spirit like a sage rising above partisan politics.
Nation has lost a great statesman,' Dhankhar tweeted.
A senior TMC leader and MP Manas Bhunia, who was a former state Congress president with whom Mukherjee shared a close relationship, said it is hard to believe that he is no more.
'I have a lot of memories of Pranabda, I can't believe he is no more. He was very affectionate towards me and I had immense respect for him. I have learnt the nitty-gritty of politics from him,' he said.
The West Bengal government on Monday decided to keep all state-run and state-aided offices and institutions closed as a mark to Mukherjee who passed away at the Army RR Hospital in Delhi earlier in the day, a senior official said.
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