1. You Are At:
  2. English News
  3. India News
  4. Former Defence Minister George Fernandes passes away at 88 after prolonged illness

Former Defence Minister George Fernandes passes away at 88 after prolonged illness

Read In Hindi

George Fernandes was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and he was in coma for a long time.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: January 29, 2019 14:20 IST
George Fernandes passes away at 88

George Fernandes passes away at 88

Former defence minister George Fernandes passed away on Tuesday morning. He breathed his last at 6 am in New Delhi. He was 88 years old and he had been unwell and bedridden over the past few years. George Fernandes had recently contracted swine flu. Fernandes will be cremated only after his son, who lives in US, returns to India. 

George Fernandes was Defence Minister in the Cabinet of Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government. He was also the convener of the NDA during Vajpayee’s stint as PM and held several ministerial portfolios, including railways, industry and communications.

George Fernandes was Defence Minister in the Cabinet of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was also the convener of the NDA during Vajpayee’s stint as PM.

Read Also | George Fernandes: Veteran socialist leader who wore many hats during his illustrious political career 

George Fernandes was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and was in coma for a long time. 

Fernandes, who was born to a Christian family in Mangalore, Karnataka, burst into national limelight when as a firebrand trade unionist in Mumbai he organised a Railways strike in 1974 that brought the country to a standstill. Ironically, he became the Railways minister in 1989 under V.P. Singh's National Front coalition government, comprising mostly Left leaning parties.

Despite being a staunch critic of the RSS, Fernandes joined the BJP-led NDA government under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998 and 1999, in which he was appointed the defense minister. Under his stewardship India fought the Kargil war in 1999. It was also during his tenure that India conducted nuclear test at Pokhran in 1998. 

He was also the Industry Minister under the Janata Party government which had defeated former Prime Minster Indira Gandhi in 1977. Soon he was at loggerheads with industrialists and slapped foreign exchange violation charges against Coca-Cola and IBM, which forced them to shut down their operations and quit India. Coca-Cola was replaced by a local drink known as 77. 

He faded away from public consciousness after unsuccessfully fighting the 2009 Parliamentary elections, ending a political career that began with him defeating veteran Congress MP S.K. Patil from Bombay South in the 1967 Lok Sabha Elections. He subsequently represented Muzzafarpur and Nalanda constituencies in Bihar, and was also a Rajya Sabha member in 2009-2010. 

PM Modi expresses grief over George Fernandes' demise

Expressing grief on Fernandes' demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he represented the best of India’s political leadership.

"George Sahab represented the best of India’s political leadership. Frank and fearless, forthright and farsighted, he made a valuable contribution to our country. He was among the most effective voices for the rights of the poor and marginalised. Saddened by his passing away," PM Modi tweeted.

"When we think of Mr. George Fernandes, we remember most notably the fiery trade union leader who fought for justice, the leader who could humble the mightiest of politicians at the hustings, a visionary Railway Minister and a great Defence Minister who made India safe and strong," he added.

"During his long years in public life, George Sahab never deviated from his political ideology. He resisted the Emergency tooth and nail. His simplicity and humility were noteworthy. My thoughts are with his family, friends and lakhs of people grieving. May his soul rest in peace," PM Modi said.

Rahul Gandhi condoles demise of George Fernandes

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday condoled the demise of former defence minister George Fernandes.

"I'm sorry to hear about the passing away of former Parliamentarian & Union Minister, George Fernandes Ji. My condolences to his family and friends in this time of grief," Gandhi said in a Facebook post.

Fernandes was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Recently, he contracted swine flu, family sources said.

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also condoled the demise of the former minister.

"My condolences on the passing away of former Union Minister, Sh George Fernandes. May his soul rest in peace," he tweeted.

Fernandes was the defence minister in the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

George Fernandes demise: Condolences pour in from political leaders cutting across party lines

Condoling the death of George Fernandes, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that he was a fiery trade union leader who fought for justice.

“Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar: I offer my deepest condolences on passing away of former defence minister George Fernandes. He was a fiery trade union leader who fought for justice. May his soul rest in peace. My thoughts are with his family,” Nitish Kumar tweeted.

Expressing grief over George Fernandes' demise, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that he was a much admired trade unionist.

"Very saddened at the passing away of former Defence Minister and much admired trade unionist, George Fernandes Ji. I have known him for decades. My condolences to his family and admirers," she twitted. 

Condoling the death of George, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said that the departed leader had committed his life to the country.

"I offer condolences at his passing away. He committed his life to the country. He fought for justice for trade unions. I considered him an icon," Gadkari said.

Write a comment

Bigg boss 13
plastic-ban