Former defence minister George Fernandes passes away at 88

Former defence minister George Fernandes passed away on Tuesday in Delhi. He was 88. 

He served as the defence minister in the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpyee between 1998 and 2004.

Fernandes had been unwell over the past few years. His last stint as an MP was in the Rajya Sabha during 2009-2010.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed sadness over the demise of George Fernandes

“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,” Modi tweeted.

“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,” Modi added.

PM Modi further said, “During his long years in public life, George Sahab never deviated from his political ideology. He resisted the Emergency tooth and nail. His simplicity and humility were noteworthy. My thoughts are with his family, friends and lakhs of people grieving. May his soul rest in peace.”

President Ram Nath Kovind was distressed to learn about the passing of George Fernandes.

“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,” Kovind tweeted.

Born in June 1930, George was a former Indian trade unionist, journalist, agriculturist, politician and member of Rajya Sabha from Bihar. He was a key member of the Janata Dal and also the founder of the Samata Party.