President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday condoled the demise of former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral. In his brief message, the President expressed grief over Mr. Gujral’s demise, Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson Venu Rajamony said.
92-year-old Gujral passed away on Friday at Medicity Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon after a multi-organ failure.
Ministers mourn Gujral's death
Condoling the former prime minister’s demise, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “The country has lost a totally different kind of a leader today. I pray to God that may his soul rest in peace and may God give his family the strength to bear this grief.”
In his message, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said, “Gujral was a seasoned and astute politician who dedicated his entire life for the cause of the nation spanning over a period of over seventy years. He not only took part in the country’s freedom struggle but also contributed significantly to nation building.
“Never afraid of speaking his mind he was instrumental in coming out with bold ideas for conflict resolution in our immediate and extended neighbourhood. Gujral rendered yeoman service in various capacities — as a statesman, as a diplomat and above all, as a thinker,” Mr. Antony said.
The Defence Minister cancelled a banquet which he was to host in the honour of the visiting Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan Jin later this evening.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that Mr. Gujral, also a former foreign minister, represented India absolutely well. “He was a talented person, well read and also a writer,” he told reporters outside Parliament House.
Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said, “I am deeply grieved... He practised the politics of idealism and conviction. Succeeding generations would be inspired by him.”
Recalling the personal relationship with the former Prime Minister, who was a freedom fighter and patriot. he added, “I always received affection from him like a father treats his son.”
Mentioning about Mr. Gujral’s interest on foreign policy, Mr. Kumar said, “A joke was going around (at that time) that if you have Mr. Gujral in Moscow, then there is no need in Russia for a foreign minister... He had balanced views and believed in Nehruvian policies.”
Railway Minister Pavan Kumar Bansal said that Mr. Gujral’s demise “is a big loss to the country“.
Expressing condolences, Mr. Bansal said that Mr. Gujral “followed value-based politics. He was a remarkable, great and one of the rare Parliamentarians”.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) V. Narayanasamy said that Mr. Gujral was a very learned person as well as a voracious reader.
“I pray to God to give courage to his family. He had handled important issues. He worked for the development of the country. Mr. Gujral was the Prime Minister at a crucial period and carried on the coalition partners,” he added.
“It is a great loss to the nation. Rather I would say an irreparable loss to the nation. He was very active in public life with impeccable integrity. He has left behind a great legacy of probity and also statesmanship,” Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said, “It is a sad news. The Home Minister has made the announcement in both the Houses. On Monday, Parliament will offer condolence to him. It is a great loss to the country.”
“The country today lost a knowledgeable person in parliamentary affairs,” Mr. Shukla told reporters outside Parliament House.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar also condoled the death of Mr. Gujral, terming it as an “irreparable loss to the country“.
Describing Mr. Gujral as an outstanding statesman, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said as Prime Minister, he took a number of significant decisions in the best interest of the country though his tenure was for a brief period.
“He was an Urdu scholar and staunch supporter of democratic values. His contribution will always be remembered,” the Delhi Chief Minister said.
Editors Guild's condolence
The Editors Guild of India also condoled the passing away of Gujral.
“Apart from being Information and Broadcasting Minister in his early career of political life, he served the country as an astute and successful diplomat and later as Minister of External Affairs,” the Guild said in a statement.
It said Mr. Gujral would be remembered for his efforts to seek conflict resolutions in the South Asia region. The Guild also hailed him as a champion of Freedom of press, someone who was always accessible to media.
Political leaders praise Gujral
Congress president Sonia Gandhi also condoled the death of Gujral.
Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury expressed grief at the death of Gujral, saying, “He had rendered long and committed service to the nation.”
Mr. Yechury said he was closely associated with Gujral when he was the Prime Minister during the United Front rule and conveyed condolences to his son and Rajya Sabha colleague Naresh Gujral.
The Communist Party of India also condoled Gujral’s death, saying the former Prime Minister would “always be remembered by the people of India as an exemplary leader who always stood for democracy, peace, independence and social justice.”
Recalling the party’s association with him during his student days, CPI said it remembered Gujral “for his progressive role to build up the peace, friendship and solidarity movement in support of the struggling people the world over.”
Condoling Gujral’s demise, LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan, who was a minister during Gujral regime, said, “He had a very clean image and a sober nature. He was also very image conscious. The country has lost a worthy son today. The nation will always remember him.”
BJP president Nitin Gadkari said, “I.K. Gujral was a versatile politician and a thinker who served the nation in various capacities with utmost dedication and sincerity. Mr. Gujral was a staunch nationalist and a great patriot, who had a thorough knowledge of international affairs.”
Party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said BJP condoles the death of Mr. Gujral and described him as one of the elite leaders of the country.
“Mr. Gujral knew the old and the new generation of Indian politics and was well-versed with pre and post Independence politics of the country. He was an expert on foreign policy,” Mr. Hussain said.
The BJP MP stated that Mr. Gujral made no enemies, was non-controversial, a clean politician and an ideal leader. Mr. Hussain said Mr. Gujral distinguished himself as an MP representing Bihar in Rajya Sabha.