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Krishna Chandra Pant, who at various points in his career served as Union minister in charge of energy, education and defence, besides chairing the 10th Finance Commission and being the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, died on Thursday after a heart attack. He was 81, and is survived by his wife, Ila, and two sons.
Pant was defence minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government from 1987 to 1989, when the Indian Peace Keeping Force was sent to Sri Lanka with the aim of anchoring a peace accord to end the country’s civil war and, instead, fought a fierce war. It was also the period when the Bofors howitzer purchase scandal dominated a lot of political discourse.
Son of Govind Ballabh Pant, long-time chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and a Union home minister, he was also chief interlocutor for the Kashmir dispute during the Vajpayee government — he’d joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in the late 1990s, after a lifetime in the Congress. He was deputy chairman of the Planning Commission between 2000 and 2004.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his passing away, the country had lost an eminent public figure and able administrator. Vice President Hamid Ansari said Pant’s contribution at the Planning Commission in nation building would be long remembered. Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said Pant played a key role in giving a needed thrust to the development process in changing circumstances. His contribution on bringing a focus to infrastructure development, particularly road development, would be remembered.