President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday lauded the former Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for his struggle to reach the highest positions in the country, overcoming difficult circumstances.
He said Shinde’s life showed how a determined mind can overcome all odds. “In overcoming the odds of an extremely humble background and beginning, overcoming the handicaps thereof without bitterness and rising up to the highest positions in the country, Shinde’s story is indeed the story of India,” Mukherjee said.
He was speaking at the 75th birthday celebration of the senior Congress leader at his native town Solapur in western Maharashtra. The President described Shinde’s life as a “shining example of an empowering, enabling and progressive democratic India, having played out itself as per the dreams of its founding fathers”.
Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and NCP chief Sharad Pawar were among those present at Shinde’s public felicitation. Fadnavis and Pawar said Shinde’s life inspires youth to overcome challenges. “He has been an ever-smiling person exuding an aura of positivity,” they said.
Shinde attributed his success in the political arena to the people of Solapur, who he said, saw him rise from the humblest of origins to become the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and later a Union Minister. Shinde said he was celebrating his birthday for the first time. He said when he was a small boy, his family barely made ends meet and as such, there was no practice of celebrating birthdays.
Pawar, who was the CM when Shinde was a minister in state cabinet, said the latter duly implemented all the responsibilities given to him. Fadnavis noted in his speech that Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist caught alive during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, was hanged during Shinde’s tenure as the Union Home Minister.
In a message, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who could not make it to the event due to her illness, hailed Shinde as an outstanding parliamentarian and administrator. Former Union Ministers P Chidambaram, Shivraj Patil, Jyotiraditya Scindia, NCP leader Praful Patel, Congress leaders Janardan Dwivedi, Mukul Wasnik and Selja were also in attendance at the event.