New Delhi: A suave and sober politician, Inder Kumar Gujral belonged to that genre of intellectuals who made a mark in India's foreign policy and a slice of luck catapulted him to the Prime Minister's office, though briefly.
Twice a Foreign Minister, Mr Gujral authored a foreign policy doctrine called the "Gujral Doctrine" (a set of principles to guide the conduct of foreign relations with India's immediate neighbours), which was widely acclaimed not only in India but also outside.
Capping a long political career that saw him occupy positions in various ministries under the late Indira Gandhi, who made him Ambassador to the then superpower USSR, Mr Gujral became the surprise choice of a motley group of regional parties to be the Prime Minister of Janata Dal-led United Front government in 1997.
With tussle among several claimants including Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mr Gujral became the consensus choice after Congress under Sitaram Kesri withdrew support to H D Deve Gowda. It was
another matter that the experiment failed and in 10 months the nation was forced to go to polls.
Born on December 4, 1919 in Jhelum town now in Pakistan, Mr Gujral belonged to a family of freedom fighters and had actively participated in the freedom struggle at a young age and was jailed in 1942 during the Quit India Movement.