New Delhi, Jul 22 - Pranab Mukherjee will embark on a new journey transcending political affiliations in the high Constitutional job with an ease none of his predecessors may have enjoyed because of his experience spanning 45 years in government and politics.
His election to the President's office today comes as a fitting finale for the 76-year-old Congressman from West Bengal, till recently the troubleshooter of UPA, a task he has handled for last eight years.
Not an established lawyer by training but considered an expert in the working of the Constitution and governance, he was ever seen as the perennial 'No 2' in government.
Mukherjee was a utility man from the days of Indira Gandhi, when he was the powerful Minister of State for Revenue during the Emergency, and later as Finance Minister in the 80s.
His rise had been steady and such valuable was his contribution to government that his nomination as a Presidential candidate came after a huge dilemma for Congress party, which heads the UPA coalition that has moved from crisis to crisis in the last eight years.
The veteran leader, known for his photographic memory, had become a Rajya Sabha member for the first time in 1969.
Mukherjee was for a long time member of the Upper House before his first direct election to the Lok Sabha in 2004 from Jangipur in West Bengal. He repeated his victory in the 2009 elections but had expressed a desire not to contest elections again in view of his advancing age.
Mukherjee was a top ranking minister and presided over the Union Cabinet meetings in the absence of the Prime Minister during 1980-1985.
Of course, Mukherjee had his own bad days in Congress which he had to quit in the mid 80s after he had evinced interest in becoming the Prime Minister after the death of Indira Gandhi in 1984.
It took some time before he came back into the party but once he was in, there was no stopping his rise once again.
Mukherjee became Finance Minister again in 2008 after P Chidambaram was shifted to Home Ministry in the wake of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
Again his importance was seen when P V Narasimha Rao made him Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission as well as Minister of External Affairs. In between he had to quit because he ceased to be a member of Parliament and came back to the Cabinet after re-election.
Mukherjee started his public life in the 60s in Bangla Congress during the time of late Chief Minister Ajoy Mukherjee of the United Front government when Jyoti Basu was Deputy Chief Minister in West Bengal. He was general secretary of Bangla Congress.
A post-graduate in political science and history, he can recollect any event of historical importance or mundane political and other events, a matter of envy to many of his colleagues.
Son of a senior Congress leader Kinkar Mukherjee from West Bengal, Pranab had a brief stint as lawyer, teacher and journalist before he was embedded to his destiny of politics in 1969, when he became a member of Rajya Sabha.
Mukherjee was Leader of the Rajya Sabha from 1980-85 and later he became Leader of the Lok Sabha. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is Leader of the Rajya Sabha.
When Mukherjee was Finance Minister, Manmohan Singh was appointed RBI Governor in 1982.
In what could be described a case of chasing each other's shadow, Singh became Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission from 1985 to 1987, a post Mukherjee later held from 1991 to 1996, when Singh became Finance Minister in P V Narasimha Rao government.
Mukherjee also had a brief stint as Chairman of the Economic Advisory Cell of AICC between 1987 and 1989.
Interestingly, Manmohan Singh also held this post, when Congress was out of power between 1999 and 2004.
Mukherjee, who started his career as a college teacher, always carried the traits of a teacher, never hestitating to give a reprimand or two to juniors whether in his party or Opposition.
He was also jocularly called 'GoM Mukherjee' in political circles as he headed 33 Groups of Ministers on various key issues including the recent one on setting up of Lokpal. PTI