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R. Venkataraman passes away

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Vinay Kumar

NEW DELHI: The former President, R. Venkataraman, who presided over the era of coalition politics at the Centre in the late 1980s, died here on Tuesday following multiple organ failure. He was 98.

Mr. Venkataraman was admitted to the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital on January 12 and the end came at 2.30 p.m., the hospital’s administrative chief, Brigadier A.K. Sharma said. Mr. Venkataraman is survived by his wife, Janaki, and three daughters. His wife and son-in-law were at his bedside when he breathed his last.

He was hospitalised after he complained of delirium and dehydration. Hospital authorities said he was suffering from multi-organ failure and was on life support systems.

Mr. Venkataraman, who was elevated from Vice-Presidency, assumed the office of President on July 25, 1987 and his term lasted till July 25, 1992.

Earlier, as Minister in the Union Cabinet, he held the key portfolios of Defence and Finance. He was also Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.

He was a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid rich tributes to him, describing him as a distinguished public personality, versatile parliamentarian and adept administrator.

Ms. Patil said Mr. Venkataraman was a true patriot who served the nation with distinction in various capacities in public life, and rose to occupy the highest office.

Mr. Ansari said Mr. Venkataraman “left a distinct mark in society and in the polity with his innate simplicity, vast erudition and experience and deep sensitivity for the poor and the deprived.”

The government declared a seven-day state mourning in the country.

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