The Congress bid farewell today to one of its most crucial and longstanding members, Pranab Mukherjee, when the party's highest decision-making body, its working committee (CWC), met this morning at party President Sonia Gandhi's 10 Janpath residence.
Mr Mukherjee, who is the ruling UPA's candidate for President, is expected to resign from primary membership of the Congress tomorrow, ending an almost 50-year association. Tomorrow, he is also expected to quit office as the country's Finance Minister. His party hopes he is smoothly headed to the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
33 of the CWC's 36 members attended today's meeting, where Mrs Gandhi felicitated Mr Mukherjee for his nomination and thanked the other parties that are supporting Mr Mukherjee's candidacy.
Mr Mukherjee is one of the longest serving members of the CWC. He has been the Congress' chief troubleshooter for a while now, parachuting into political conflict zones and tackling difficult allies and an aggressive opposition. He became a member of the CWC 34 years ago, in 1978.
The veteran leader's chances of becoming President are bright - apart from the UPA and friends, opposition parties like the CPM, Shiv Sena and JD(U) have said they support him. His main opponent is Purno Sangma, who is supported by a majority of the BJP-ruled NDA, and parties like J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK and Naveen Patnaik's BJD.
UPA ally Mamata Banerjee is yet to endorse Mr Mukherjee's candidacy.
Mr Mukherjee first entered the Indian Parliament in 1969, elected to the Rajya Sabha and was a member of the Upper House for years. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004 from Jangipur in West Bengal. He was re-elected in 2009.