Home FEATURED Odisha CM condoles death of Former Defence Minister George Fernandes

Odisha CM condoles death of Former Defence Minister George Fernandes

0
SHARE

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today expressed grief over the death of former Defence Minister George Fernandes.

Describing Fernandes as a stalwart leader, Patnaik said it is a great loss for the nation both politically as well as intellectually.

Fernandes, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, has been out of the public eye and has been bed-ridden for more than eight years, family sources said.

He had a cold and cough and was taken to the Max Hospital in Saket in Delhi by his wife, Liela Fernandes, earlier in the day, when doctors said that the veteran leader was already dead.

Fernandes, a long-time socialist, rose to political prominence when he led the Bombay Taxi Unions Association and defeated “uncrowned king of Bombay” S.K. Patil, a Congress heavy-weight in the 1967 general election.

A fire-brand and hardworking Fernandes, only 37 then, campaigned tirelessly, covering large swathes of the constituency with his workers. And when the results were declared, he unseated the ‘king’ with 48.5 per cent of the votes.

Fernandes later joined the Janata Dal. He served as Railways Minister in the V.P. Singh government from 1989 to 1990. He was instrumental in setting up the Konkan Railway project, connecting Mangalore and Bombay.

In 1994, Fernandes formed the Samata Party, which later allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party. He was appointed convenor of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and served as the Defence Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government for two terms, between 1998 and 2004.

His term was eventful as it witnessed the Kargil war and Pokhran test.

(With IANS inputs)