George Fernandes was a champion of democracy, says President Ram Nath Kovind

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar pays tributes to George Fernandes at a condolence meet in Patna on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

Former Defence Minister in the Vajpayee government George Fernandes passed away on Tuesday in New Delhi, according to family members. He was 88.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled Mr. Fernandes' past as a "fiery trade union leader" and a "visionary Railway Minister."

"When we think of Mr. George Fernandes, we remember most notably the fiery trade union leader who fought for justice, the leader who could humble the mightiest of politicians at the hustings, a visionary Railway Minister and a great Defence Minister who made India safe and strong," Mr. Modi wrote on Twitter.

"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," he added.

Former Minister George Fernandes being arrested during the Emergency period.

Former Minister George Fernandes being arrested during the Emergency period.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

 

President Ram Nath Kovind said Mr. Fernandes was a champion of democracy. "Distressed to learn of the passing of Shri George Fernandes, who served India in many capacities, including as Defence Minister. He epitomised simple living and high thinking. And was a champion of democracy, during the Emergency and beyond. We will all miss him," he said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi conveyed his condolences to Mr. Fernandes' family. "I’m sorry to hear about the passing away of former Parliamentarian & Union Minister, George Fernandes Ji," he wrote on Facebook. "My condolences to his family and friends in this time of grief."

"We're saddened to hear about the passing away of former Defence Minister George Fernandes. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family & friends in their time of loss," the Congress' official twitter handle said in a statement.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was deeply saddened by his passing. "Today we have lost a stalwart of India’s socialist movement. He devoted his entire life for the welfare and uplift of the poor and marginalised. My heartfelt condolences to his family," he wrote on Twitter. "George Fernandes ji served the nation in several capacities and held key portfolios like Defence and Railways at different times. He led many labour movements and fought against the injustice towards them. His tenure as Defence Minister was outstanding. May his soul rest in peace," he added.

Samata Party leader Jaya Jaitly at George Fernandes' residence in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Samata Party leader Jaya Jaitly at George Fernandes' residence in New Delhi on Tuesday.  

 

BJP national president Amit Shah said Mr. Fernandes left his mark on political events over decades.  "Anguished to learn about the demise of George Fernandes ji. His political persona left an indelible mark on several significant political events over decades. He also held several important ministerial portfolios in the Union cabinet over time," he wrote on Twitter.

Cabinet Minister Smriti Irani tweeted: "Saddened by the demise of former Defence Minister George Fernandes. An able administrator, a distinguished politician, his contribution towards strengthening democracy will be etched in the hearts & minds of Indians forever. My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones. Om Shanti."

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy recalled his friendship with Mr. Fernandes despite idealogical differences. "Very sad to hear about George Fernandes’ demise. He was a very good friend in his later years. Earlier we had ideological differences due to his being socialist and I for market based economy but we were united in opposing TDK and residual Nehru family," he tweeted.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu: Deepest condolences on the demise of Sri George Fernandes, former Defence Minister. An able administrator and a fearless trade union leader, he committed his life to strengthening democracy and fighting against injustice.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu leaves after paying homage to George Fernandes at the latter's residence in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu leaves after paying homage to George Fernandes at the latter's residence in New Delhi on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: R V Moorthy

 

Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot: Saddened to learn about the demise of George Fernandes, former Defence minister, my condolences to the family and prayers for the departed soul.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar expressed grief over the demise of his friend George Fernandes and paid rich tributes to him, lauding his fiery oratory and his contributions as Union minister and trade union leader.

In his message, Mr. Pawar hailed Mr. Fernandes for “strengthening and giving new direction” to the workers’ (labour) movement. Mr. Pawar recalled that Mr. Fernandes, who hailed from North Karnataka, came to Mumbai in 1949 and “became one of Mumbai’s“.

“He dedicated himself to voice concerns of workers and to ensure justice for them. He built a strong organisation of BMC (civic body) workers. He also ably led the union of railway workers,” Mr. Pawar noted.

Describing Mr. Fernandes as a “good parliamentarian”, Mr. Pawar praised him for leaving behind mark as an “effective administrator” while discharging duties as the country’s defence and industries minister.

“George was an excellent orator. His command over several languages was praiseworthy. We have lost a leader who created an independent identity of himself and who consistently fought for the commoners and workers,” he said.

“He was my personal friend. With his demise, I have lost a senior colleague,” Mr. Pawar added.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee: Very saddened at the passing away of former Defence Minister and much admired trade unionist, George Fernandes Ji. I have known him for decades. My condolences to his family and admirers.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal: Sad to know about the passing away of former Defence Minister and veteran leader George Fernandes sahib. May his near and dear ones bear the loss with courage

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik the demise of Mr. Fernandes, saying it is a great loss for the country, politically as well as intellectually. “Deeply saddened at passing away of former Union minister and stalwart leader George Fernandes. It is a great loss for the nation, both politically as well as intellectually,” Patnaik wrote on Twitter. “Pray for his soul to rest in peace and my condolences for his family and followers,” he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said, "Fernandes would be remembered as one of the most prominent leaders of the socialist movement of the 1970s. A fearless politician, he played an important role in the Indian polity. In his death, the nation had lost an astute leader."

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said, "I am pained to learn about the sad demise of veteran leader and distinguished parliamentarian George Fernandesji. His life symbolised constant struggle for preservation of the basic values that constitute the bedrock of our democracy. He was a strong votary of indestructible nature of civil liberties and always stood for the rights of the people. As a senior parliamentarian, he voiced the concerns and aspirations of the teeming masses on the floor of the House. In his demise, India has lost one of her distinguished sons. I convey my condolences to the bereaved members of his family."

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 4:28:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/george-fernandes-no-more-reactions-pour-in/article26117728.ece

Next Story