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  Life of Abhijit Mukherjee

Abhijit Mukherjee was born in Hoogly, West Bengal, on Saturday 2nd January 1960; the son of Sri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India and Smt. Suvra Mukherjee.

His father,Sri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon'ble President of India , his grandfather Late Sri Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee was also a respected freedom fighter and member of the All India Congress Committee, West Bengal Legislative Council (MLC) (1952-64), and President, District Congress Committee, Birbhum, West Bengal. His father was also a respected freedom fighter who had been sent to prison for more than 10 years for his opposition to the British rule. He attended the Suri Vidyasagar College, Suri, Birbhum, then affiliated with the University of Calcutta. He passed double M. A., one in History, another in Political Science. After that he passed L.L.B. He married Smt. Suvra Mukherjee and is blessed with one son Abhijit and one daughter Sharmistha who happens to be a well-known exponent of the classical dance form.

Abhijit Mukherjee, an alumnus of Jadavpur University graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1984. He is fondly called “Babu Da” by his friends, associates and political workers. He married Smt. Chitralekha Mukherjee on Saturday 14th July 1984 and is blessed with one daughter and one son.

As West Bengal geared up for the April-May 2011 Assembly polls, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit Mukherjee joined the Congress and was fielded as the party's candidate and won the Nalhati Constituency in Birbhum District of West Bengal with 76047 (49.03 %) votes polled in his favour. He won with a comfortable of 15160 compared to his immediate rival of All India Forward Bloc.

For the last 44 years since 1967, Nalhati has always voted for a left front candidate in the assembly elections that is from even before the Left Front Government came to power in 1977. No right wing candidate has ever won an assembly contest from Nalhati. It has been a left front stronghold.

It is in this land of opposition that Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's son Sri Abhijit Mukherjee was pushed into as a candidate for the Indian National Congress. Opposing him was the sitting Forward Block MLA who knows the turf better than his palm.

Nobody who has had his grounding in corporate entities like Maruti, BHEL and SAIL for 26½ years could miss such trend lines and young Abhijit hasn't either. As a General Manager in charge of Corporate Social Responsibility [CSR] in Steel Authority of India Limited, he has observed that Nalhati has no proper roads or electricity, very few schools and even fewer healthcare facilities. His greatest asset is that he is a son of the soil, his family ancestral home being in Mirty village near Kirnahar in Birbhum district, about 90 kms from Nalhati.

Perhaps it's his nature, or maybe it's too early, and everyone waited to see what political success does to him–but the son of arguably one of the most important ruling party politician in the country is noticeably un-scion-like. But Congress MLA in the Bengal shows no signs of being the political version of the star son.

Abhijit, however, clarified that it was not his father who brought him into politics. "I came into politics on my own. The Congress was the only party I knew and believed in. So I jumped on the Congress bandwagon. So my success and failure as an MLA will be that of my own, not of my father."

Apparently, it did seem to be a no-contest and ex-SAIL employee Abhijit relied as much on divinity as he is on his party machinery to make a fight of it, and win. The only bright light is a fairly recent trend that has emerged in the 2008 panchayat elections, when the Congress had won 17 seats and Left Front 7 in Nalhati-I, while CPM and Congress had won 7 seats each in Nalhati-II. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Congress & Trinamool alliance had fielded popular actress Shatabdi Roy here who lead by 11,539 votes in this assembly constituency.

One of Abhijit Mukherjee's first encounters with political life – He quits SAIL only recently – seems to be a deadline-driven rush to complete paperwork. "I had to complete the paperwork for my nomination," Mukherjee Jr. said. "I had to do this by March 31, and am not used to this. In SAIL, you had TDS (tax deducted at source) and certificates come with a lag."

But why wait so long to join politics? Mukherjee Jr., who started his professional career with Maruti in 1984 before joining BHEL and then moving on to SAIL, doesn't elaborate beyond saying he hadn't thought of politics till a few years back. And when he thought of politics, "My childhood memories of my father's and grandfather's work for the disadvantaged in Nalhati, Birbhum were the biggest deciding factor," he said.

This is an answer no seasoned politician can find fault with. He seems more forthcoming when asked how much his father influenced his decision. "It's my decision. He only told me to remember political life can be uncertain and there's no looking back once you are in."

And how is he different from his father in politics? "I will tell you what I would like to do differently", he says, parsing the question slightly. "I will say 'No' when 'No' is the right answer. I have been told 'No' loses you votes. But I will still say 'No' if I think that's the right answer."

It's his father's ability to be courteous with politicians from rival parties that Mukherjee Jr. likes most. He, unsurprisingly, politely refuses to answer any questions on his father's future prospects, on the twist and turns of Pranab Mukherjee's long career.

But Abhijit Mukherjee is quite candid about general political questions. "MPs or MLAs have become people who are only supposed to use their influence to get things done in their constituencies. What about basic governance? Isn't that the job of a political representative?"

He tries to do all those things, he says. The result will prove whether "My decision to quit a job and join politics was whimsical". Hasn't he given up a nice retirement package that would have been his due had he served some more time? Mukherjee Jr. smiles. "The only strange thing I feel now is that 9.30 am, weekday, I am not in office. I am officially jobless. But the voters of Nalhati have given me a social job”.

While the Pradesh Congress was abuzz with his possible ministerial berth in the new government, Abhijit Mukherjee felt that there are many senior and experienced MLAs who deserve berths more than he does. "This is my debut term," he reminded.

"But whether within the ministry or outside it, I am committed to work for my constituency, for my state and for my country. I will make further assessment of requirements, prioritize them and implement the development programmes within the least possible time," he said. Drinking water, Water shed management, Right to food, Irrigation, Education and Health sector are his top priorities. Though, it is not an easy transition. Proper planning and least time for implementation is his mantra. "I have set deadlines for projects. Fund is not a problem. There are the MLALAD fund and different corporate schemes, which might take care of 60% of my work. For the rest of the 40%, I will not shy away from taking every advantage I have as an MLA.

It is quite a metamorphosis for the newly-elected MLA, for Abhijit Mukherjee was known for his temper.

When  asked  about  his  son's  winning  from  Nalhati  which  had  been a Left  bastion, President of  India
Sri Pranab Mukherjee said: "My son fought the elections like any other Congress candidate. I gave him the same time as I did to others." Asked to comment as a father, Pranab Mukherjee smiled: "I am obviously happy as a father that he has won."

Is it advantageous being the son of Pranab Mukherjee? "Well, my father's parliamentary constituency, Jangipur, is not far from mine. People of Nalhati were aware how my father has changed the face of Jangipur. So, the people of Nalhati realized that I can also deliver. Now it is my turn to justify their belief in me," he said.

Abhijit, however, clarified that it was not his father who brought him into politics. "I came into politics on my own. The Congress was the only party I knew and believed in its policy. So I jumped on the Congress bandwagon. My success and failure as an MLA will be that of my own, not of my father."

The demand of granting Central University status to Jadavpur University has found a new supporter in Abhijit Mukherjee, an alumnus of Jadavpur University who graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1984, on Wednesday said: "I take the responsibility to pursue the demand of granting Central university status to Jadavpur University with the Union government," Mukherjee told a convention organized to garner support on the issue.

"The students of Jadavpur University are not less talented than those in the IITs. The Central status of the university is necessary to retain talent and provide better scope for research in this institution," said Mukherjee. He added of Rs 180 crore received by the university, Rs 160 crore is spent on the salaries and the remaining 10 per cent fund is available for research and development.

Abhijit said the proposal in this regard has to first get a nod from the state government and urged faculty members of the university to be ready to provide all necessary documents to the Central government.

The former SAIL executive has also asked the students present in the convention whether they were in favour of central university status. "I am asking you so that in future there should not be any politics over it," he added. Meanwhile teachers, officers, students and non-teaching staff launched 'JU Forum for Central University' which will initiate activities for pushing the demand of central university status.

Abhijit, is a technocrat and handle all the matters brought to him with due seriousness and alacrity. He has hands on approach. He is perhaps the first Member of Legislative Assembly in West Bengal to have his full fledged back office and dedicated website that he intends to use as an interactive platform with all. His goal is to make his constituency a model one within this tenure of five years.

Away from the political humdrums, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrives at Kirnahar from Kolkata yesterday with his wife Smt. Suvra Mukherjee to take part in Durga Puja at his ancestral house. Mukherjee's son Abhijit, who also plays an active part in the festivities, reached earlier and looked after the arrangements during the occasion.

He steps into the role of a priest to conduct traditional rituals of 'Mahasaptami', the first day of Durga Puja, at his ancestral house in Mirty village of Birbhum district. "This is a much-awaited occasion in my life and I eagerly await throughout the year to be at our ancestral house these four days," the 77 years old Congress leader told reporters at the end of the day's Puja.

Family sources said the Union minister's grandfather Late Sri Tarak Nath Mukherjee had introduced Durga puja, which entered its 117th year as on 2011, at the Mirty house.

"I hardly missed the opportunity to be at Mirity to attend the puja, except in 1995 when I represented India at UN General Assembly and two or three times due to political reasons," he said.

Security measures are put in place at the ancestral house of the Mukherjee’s and metal detectors put up at the main entrance. Pranab Mukherjee, accompanied by his son Abhijit Mukherjee, Congress MLA, himself walks upto a canal of Kueye river for the formal bathing of the 'Kalabou' to mark the formal beginning of the 4-day Durga Puja.

Back to the mandap, Mukherjee, wearing dhoti and anagavastram, carried out various rituals. True to the family tradition, the Puja was simple and bereft of any grandeur. Asked to comment on the significance of the Durga puja of his ancestral house, Mukherjee said, "I attach utmost importance to the puja which is our family tradition. I meet my family members here on this occasion."





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