'Tough decisions taken in interest of people'
Pranab Mukherjee, who resigned as the Finance Minister on Tuesday to contest for the post of President as a Congress nominee, sought to justify some of his tough and contentious decisions saying that they were taken in the interest of people.
"I know that not every decision which I have taken might have been right. But I have taken those decisions keeping in view the interest of the people whose faces appeared before me more than often," Mukherjee said before demitting his office in North Block.
After a three-year tenure, Mukherjee demits office at a time when investors have hit a sour note on India due to a number of controversial policies like GAAR and retrospective amendment to tax laws. His leaving office is also marked by yawning current account deficit, rupee at all-time low and a plummeting economic growth rate.
His tenure also coincided with the world economic crisis in 2008 and again the renewed prospects of a slowdown in 2012.
Mukherjee, who received both bouquet and brickbats for his decisions, said criticism and appreciation reminded him of his duties.
"Members of the media, friends like you, have always reminded me my responsibility most of time through your criticism, sometimes through your appreciation, what I should do as a representative of the people," he said.
"I hope these duties you will continue so long I am in public life," he said.
Mukherjee tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and would now campaign for the Presidential polls scheduled on July 19. The 77-year old leader will file his nomination for the highest post in the country on June 28.
As a Finance Minister he had to steer the economy out of the crisis and also brought in new taxation proposals, including retrospective amendment and introduction ofGeneral Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR), which have generated wide spread criticism and concerns of slowing foreign investment.
While the economic growth rate in 2011-12 slipped to a nine-year low of 6.5 per cent, current account deficit (CAD) touched a high of 4 per cent.
Besides, a sliding rupee, which has reached a historic low of 57.97 against a dollar, has added to Mukherjee's woes.
In his last message as Finance Minister to the media, a sentimental Mukherjee said he is leaving his job to "embark on a new journey".
"Yet, standing on the brink of such an honour, I will also feel a pinch of sentiments at the thought of leaving behind my life as a political activist, spanning over four decades," he told reporters covering him regularly in his North Block office.
He said he felt honoured and humbled on his nomination as a candidate to contest in the Presidential election by UPA-II, supported by SP, BSP, JDU, Shiv Sena, CPI-M, Forward Bloc and some other parties.
He said he would miss "not being stopped by media persons while getting into car or coming out of his car in front of his office in North Block".
Mukherjee has always been obliging to media-persons waiting for comments outside his office on various issues plaguing the economy, and sometimes on politics.
Rarely did he disappoint reporters by not offering comments. Earlier in the day, he even asked media persons not to torture themselves standing in the scorching sun for his remarks.