India’s former president Pranab Mukherjee has died 21 days after it was confirmed that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.The 84-year-old was in hospital to remove a clot in his brain when it was discovered he also had Covid-19.Before serving as president between 2012 and 2017, Mr Mukherjee held several important portfolios during his 51-year political career.These included the finance, foreign and defence ministries.His son, Abhijit, confirmed the news in a tweet.
The job of president is largely ceremonial but becomes crucial when elections throw up fragmented mandates. The president decides which party or coalition can be invited to form a government.Mr Mukherjee didn’t have to take such a decision because the mandate was clear during his presidency. But he showed his assertiveness in other decisions, such as rejecting the mercy petitions of several people who had been sentenced to death. Mr Mukherjee also served on the boards of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.