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George Fernandes, former Defence Minister, passes away

George Fernandes, circa 1984

George Fernandes, circa 1984   | Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

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The 88-year-old leader was a trade unionist, journalist, agriculturist, and a member of the Rajya Sabha from Bihar.

George Fernandes, former Defence Minister and one of the most prominent leaders of the socialist movement in the 1970s, died here on Tuesday morning. He was 88. Mr. Fernandes had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was bedridden over the past few years. The family is now awaiting the arrival of his son Sean Fernandes from the U.S. to proceed with the funeral arrangements. The funeral is scheduled here on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “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.’’

Several leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday took to social media to express their condolences.

Mr. Gandhi said: “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.”

‘Exceptional socialist’

“Extremely pained to know about the passing away of Shri George Fernandes, a veteran politician, an exceptional socialist in vision and action, & a nationalist to the core. Condolences to bereaved family, friends & admirers. May the departed soul rest in peace,’’ tweeted Finance Minister Arun Jaitely.

Offering his condolences, Union Minister Ramvilas Paswan said: “In 1969 when I started out in politics, I didn’t know which political party to join. I was inspired by George sahab’s intense commitment to join Samyukt Socialist Party in 1969. I have always shared a warm personal relationship with him. He will always remain a revered figure for me. With his death an era has come to end.”

Meanwhile, “the body of former George Fernandes will be cremated while his ashes will be buried,’’ said social activist and former Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly on Tuesday. She and several other leaders reached Mr. Fernandes residence on Tuesday morning upon receiving the news.

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The article has been edited to correct an error. An earlier version of the copy said he was the Industry Minister under the Jan Sangh government, instead of Janata government.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 4:46:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/george-fernandes-former-defence-minister-passes-away/article26117612.ece

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