As a special gift to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to mark his 75th birthday, Kolkata-based Deep Prakashan has brought out a coffee-table book on him that was released by Vice-President Hamid Ansari at the ongoing World Book Fair in Pragati Maidan here on Wednesday.

Speaking about the book, Pranab Mukherjee: The All Season Man, Mr. Ansari compared the senior Congress leader’s long political innings to the gentleman’s game.

“In cricket, once a player makes 75 runs it becomes a respectable score. But the question is how it is reached. Here we have a case where 75 has been reached in the most impeccable manner. I remember once I had gone to the Ferozeshah Kotla where Vijay Hazare played a memorable innings of doughty defence and flashes of stroke play. Pranab Da’s innings [in the corridors of power] is also on those lines. The list of contributors will make you judge the diversity and comprehensiveness of his administrative skills.”

The Vice-President said it was difficult to categorise the Finance Minister.

“He has been on the political scene and Parliament for so long. One thing is loud and clear: Pranab Da has amazing efficacy, razor-sharp memory, ability to ease complex situations and build consensus,” Mr. Ansari said.

In the past six years of United Progressive Alliance rule at the Centre, Mr. Mukherjee had been playing the role of a sheet-anchor in dealing with difficult situations, the Vice-President said. He had diversity of interest and expertise.

“He has worked in the Ministry of Commerce, Defence Ministry, External Affairs and now Finance Ministry. This is a feat that no one has equalled in Indian Parliament… I hope he would some day write about his unique experience of being in so many different sides of the government.”

Many moments shared

Stating that he was grateful to the Vice-President for having agreed to bless the book release function, Mr. Mukherjee said: “We have shared many moments discussing different subjects. The book has been brought out by a young man, a political activist and a lawyer. I didn’t expect it would be possible for him to complete the project as the personalities would find it difficult to find time. But he and his collaborators have brought it out literally.”

The Finance Minister said he received a copy but only had time to glance through it.

The book on “the Chanakya of Indian politics” is a compilation of memoirs, first person accounts and thoughts by eminent personalities from different walks of life at home and abroad.

It has been edited by Sukhendu Sekhar Ray.

The book has comments by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, BJP leader L.K. Advani, veteran actor Mithun Chakraborty and cricketer Kapil Dev, besides a host of national and international figures.

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