George Fernandes, a former Union Minister of India, passed away at the age of 88 on Tuesday. The former Indian Parliamentarian suffered from swine flu for the last few days and had a preexisting condition of Alzheimer’s disease
India’s former Union Minister, George Fernandes passed away on Tuesday after suffering from swine flu for the last few days. He was known to be bedridden for the last few years and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. The former Indian Parliamentarian, elected to the lower house of the Indian Parliament in 1967, came into the limelight due to his stern anti-Emergency stance and opposition to then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s rule.
During the Emergency, imposed on the Indian state from 1975 to 1977, George Fernandes emerged as a strong opposition leader, looking to challenge former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Arrested in 1976, the Indian political leader assumed the role of Union Minister for Industries under the Janata Party rule in 1977. As the Industries Minister, George Fernandes employed socialist policies and drove out International MNCs like Coca-Cola and IBM. He was a part of the cabinet under the new Prime Minister Morarji Desai until 1979 and later joined the Janta Dal.
In 1989, George Fernandes returned to the cabinet under then-Prime Minister V.P. Singh as the Railway Minister. In 1994, he formed the Samta Party that soon joined hands with the newly founded Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). George Fernandes was known to be a close confidant of former Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and held the position of Defence Minister for two terms under his rule between 1998 and 2004.
Soon after George Fernandes’ passing on Tuesday morning, Indian PM Narendra Modi honoured the Parliamentarian by stating, “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.”
Indian President, Ram Nath Kovind also mourned the former politician’s death, asserting that George Fernandes was a “champion of democracy, during the Emergency and beyond”.