Dhaka, Aug 31: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina described former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee as a true friend of Bangladesh, saying, “We would remember him for his support and love for Bangladesh.”
In a video message aired in the First Pranab Mukherjee Memorial Lecture, she said, “It was hard to pass a year without Pranab dada (brother). He was a true friend of Bangladesh and a great political icon of the subcontinent.”
“I pay my deep homage to the memory of this towering personality on his death anniversary,” she also said.
Pranab Mukherjee Legacy Foundation (PMLF) organised the lecture to commemorate the First Death Anniversary of Bharat Ratna, Pranab Mukherjee and begin the Foundation’s journey dedicated to the cause of taking his legacy forward.
Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu also addressed the function.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and former Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh also delivered video messages on the occasion.
Sheikh Hasina said that the death of Shri Pranab Mukherjee has created a vacuum in the intellectual as well as in the political arena of the sub-continent.
“He would remain as an inspiration for the coming generations of our region,” she added.
The Prime Minister thanked “Pranab Mukherjee Legacy Foundation”, especially Sharmishtha Mukherjee, for inviting her to speak at this programme.
In her video message, she said, “Pranab dada had deep love for Bangladesh. His contribution to our great Liberation War would never be forgotten.”
As a young MP, the premier said, he took bold initiatives for “our support” and tabled a motion in Rajya Sabha in June 1971 for the recognition of Bangladesh.
“The people of Bangladesh gratefully remember his support,” she added.
She rcalled that Pranab Mukherjee had enormous respect and deep regards for Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Noting that he had been given Bharat Ratna for his contribution by the government of India, she said, “It was our honour to have conferred the prestigious Muktijuddho Sammanona (Liberation War Honour) on him in 2013 for his invaluable contributions to our Liberation War.”
She continued that Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukherjee had a colourful political career and he was known for his extraordinary wisdom, far-sightedness and visionary leadership.
With his versatile talents, he efficiently managed important ministries like Finance, Defence and External Affairs of the Government of India, she said.
The Prime Minister said that his extraordinary qualities eventually led him to become the first citizen of the country and the first Bangalee President of India.
Coming down on the memory lane, she said, “I myself had close personal relations and very fond memories with him and his wife Shubra Mukerjee, who was from Bangladesh. Pranab dada and Shubra didi had deep affection for me and my sister Sheikh Rehana.”
She added that they remained beside them as guardians and family friends during their difficult days in India after the assassination of their parents along with 18 other close family members on the 15th August 1975.
“His departure was a personal loss for me and my family, and I will continue to miss him and his affection,” she said.