13 April, 2021

Nothing Is Really Foreign To Him

Pranab Mukherjee's experience in most major ministries will serve him well in South Block

Nothing Is Really Foreign To Him
After K. Natwar Singh was eased out of South Block last November, the first-floor office of the minister of external affairs was swept once a week, kept spick and span as the mandarins waited patiently for a successor. It was long rumoured that Pranab Mukherjee would succeed Natwar. The rumours gathered strength when he was deputed to attend the United Nations General Assembly session in September. In New York, Pranab had a detailed meeting with US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, with the Indian ambassador Ronen Sen coming down from Washington for the occassion. Pranab also met the Indian community as well as ministers from other countries. It was almost as if he was doing a dry run for the job—he had led Indian delegations regularly earlier, but that was over a decade ago.

With Pranab becoming foreign minister, the external affairs ministry has finally got a man at the helm who has held almost all major portfolios, even defence and finance. This couldn't be said even of the previous stalwart in the office. As most foreign policy...

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