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.
President Ramnath 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 Minster 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.
And many other national leaders like Amit Shah, Smriti Irani, Subramanian Swamy, Chandrababu Naidu, Sharad Pawar and Naveen Patnaik mourned for the death of the political legend.