A pall of gloom descended over the Rajasthan capital on Tuesday following the death of Governor Shailendra Kumar Singh in Delhi after a prolonged illness. The State Government declared seven-day mourning and a public holiday on Wednesday in honour of the former diplomat who took over as the Governor here in August 2007. Mr. Singh, 77, died at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi on Tuesday afternoon. He was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit on November 5. He is survived by his wife Manju Singh and two sons, Shashank and Kanishka.
The State Cabinet passed a resolution condoling Mr. Singh’s death at a meeting held here shortly after a two-day “Chintan Shivir” (introspection camp) on the completion of the Congress regime’s one year. A half-day holiday was declared on Tuesday as well.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, accompanied by several of his Cabinet colleagues, left for Delhi to attend Mr. Singh’s cremation at Lodhi Road crematorium on Wednesday forenoon. Mr. Gehlot, expressing his grief, said the late Governor was an “intelligent, erudite and experienced” person who would be remembered for his original thinking and straightforward views.
Mr. Singh, a former Foreign Secretary rated as one of the best among the diplomats of his generation, was India’s longest serving High Commissioner to Pakistan between 1985 and 1989.
He was the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh for three years before his gubernatorial assignment in Rajasthan. As a highly educated person, he received a Master’s degree in history from Agra University and also did graduation in law. He studied Persian and International Law at Trinity College, University of Cambridge.
He began his career in the Indian Foreign Service in 1954 and was appointed the country’s Foreign Secretary in 1989, holding the personal rank of Grade-1 Ambassador, the highest in the IFS.
Mr. Singh was regarded as an “active Governor” who aired his views without restraint on issues ranging from economic crisis and reservation policy to the alleged role of RSS in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. Civil rights bodies hailed his decision to return the controversial Freedom of Religion Bill passed by the previous BJP-led Government and later refer it to the President.
Mr. Singh also held with him the Bill providing reservation for Gujjars and nomadic tribes for more than a year and signed it earlier this year following a pact between the State Government and Gujjar leaders.
He was considered close to the Nehru-Gandhi family and his son, Kanishka, had quit his job as an investment banker to become Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s close political aide to help him out in the rough and tumble of the Uttar Pradesh politics. Mr. Gandhi also attended Kanishka’s marriage here last year.
Mr. Singh was last seen publicly some three months ago at a function marking the release of a book authored jointly by Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Thuroor and former Pakistan Foreign Secretary Shaharyar Khan.