Ex-Prime Minister I K Gujral passes away

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 16:51 hrs
Ex-Prime Minister I K Gujral passes away

India's 12th Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, whose policy of pacifism with neighbours continues to influence the Asian giant's foreign policy architecture, passed away after a multi-organ failure at Medanta Medicity hospital in Gurgaon on Friday. He was 93.

Gujral, who was admitted to the hospital on Nov 19 with a lung infection, died at around 3:30 pm.

He was unwell for quite some time and was on ventilator support.

The former Prime Minister was also on dialysis for more than a year, reports said.

His body will be later taken to his residence at 5, Janpath here.

According to reports, Gujral, who had served as the 12th Prime Minister of India in the United Front government from April 1997 to March 1998, will be cremated on Saturday.

He is survived by his two sons, Naresh and Vishal.

Pertinently, Naresh is member of the Shiromani Akali Dal and a Rajya Sabha Member of the Parliament.

His wife Sheila Gujral, who died in 2011, was a prominent poet and author of several books in Punjabi, Hindi and English languages.

His brother Satish Gujral is a prominent painter and architect.

Meanwhile, both Houses of the Parliament were adjourned for the day on Friday as a mark of respect to the former Prime Minister of the country.

The Houses were adjourned minutes after Union Home Minister Sushil Kuamar Shinde announced Gujral´s death in the Lok Sabha.

Shinde said in the Lok Sabha: "I am deeply grieved to inform the house about the demise of Inder Kumar Gujral, the former prime minister of India. He passed away at 3:31 pm."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vice President Hamid Ansari have condoled the passing away of Gujral.

In his message, the Prime Minister said: "I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of former Prime Minister Shri I.K. Gujral. In his passing, the country has lost an intellectual, a scholar-statesman and a gentleman politician whose liberal and humanist vision was rooted in the teachings of the leaders of our freedom movement."

"I personally have lost a friend of long standing, whose wisdom, idealism and deep concern for social equity left a great impression on me and whose counsel and opinion I often sought and valued greatly," Singh said.

"Shri Gujral was a man of peace, an idealist who lived by his principles and an intellectual with the human touch. His long and distinguished career was marked by diverse political and diplomatic responsibilities. No matter what portfolio he held, what shone through always was his sincerity and warmth, compassion for his fellow human beings and the legacy of strongly held socialist beliefs from his youthful experiences," he said.

"These qualities of head and heart enabled him to make his mark in every office he held. He was a diplomat who helped to consolidate India's ties with Russia and the non-aligned world. As Minister for External Affairs, he restored India-Bangladesh relations with the Ganga Waters Agreement, rebuilt the structure of dialogue with Pakistan and initiated the negotiations on the historic India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement. His vision of a prosperous South Asia at peace with itself constitutes a lasting legacy," Singh said.

"As Prime Minister, he set an example of grace under pressure, of composure in difficult circumstances and of steadfastness to principles. As a largely coalition-based polity adjusted to rapid political and social change, Shri Gujral provided a steady hand at the helm," he said.

"We will feel his loss in India, where his long years of public service, starting with political activism and underground activity in the Punjab in his student days culminated in the highest executive office in the land. He will also be missed in South Asia, where his determined quest for a future of peace, friendship and cooperation was epitomized by the eponymous Gujral Doctrine, which is still invoked by men of goodwill in the subcontinent," Singh said.

"And he will be missed around the world by the many friends he won through his political and diplomatic activism, his sharp intellect and his warm character. The best tribute to him would be to rededicate ourselves to the principles by which he lived his life," he said.

In his message, Ansari said Gujral was a distinguished leader and an outstanding public figure who served our country in various capacities, including as External Affairs Minister and Ambassador to the USSR, with dedication, honesty and patriotism, in a long and illustrious career spanning over many decades.

"In his death, India has lost an eminent son whose absence will be felt for all times to come. We pay homage to the departed soul and salute his service to our motherland," he said.

Defence Minister AK Antony has offered his condolences at the passing away of the former Prime Minister.

In his message Antony said : "Never afraid of speaking his mind he was instrumental in coming out with bold ideas for conflict resolution in our immediate and extended neighbourhood. Shri Gujral rendered yeoman's service in various capacities - as a statesman, as a diplomat and above all, as a thinker.".

Antony has cancelled a banquet which he was to host in the honour of the visiting Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan Jin later in the evening, an official statement said.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi mourned the death of Gujral and tweeted: "Sad to hear about the demise of former PM Shri IK Gujral. My deepest condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace."

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told media: "The BJP expresses its condolences, prays that God gives the family strength to bear with the loss."

Born on Dec 4, 1919 in Jhelum town, which is now in Pakistan, Gujral served as the Prime Minister of India in the United Front government from April 1997 to March 1998.

He participated in India´s freedom struggle, and was jailed in 1942 during the ´Quit India Movement´.

Gujral had left the Indian National Congress party in the mid-1980s and joined the Janata Dal. Even before joining Congress he was a member of the underground Communist party.

He had served as Minister of Information and Broadcasting during the tumultuous days of June 1975.

Gujral was later appointed Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union as the Indian envoy to Moscow.

In the 1989 elections, Gujral was elected from the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency in Punjab. He served as Minister of External Affairs in Prime Minister V. P. Singh´s cabinet.

After 1996 election, when the United Front government was formed at the center under the premiership of H. D. Deve Gowda, Gujral was again named Minister of External Affairs.

His ´Gujral Doctrine´, was known for espousing better relations with neighbours.

The Gujral Doctrine is a set of five principles to guide the conduct of foreign relations with India's immediate neighbours as spelt out by Gujral, first as India's External Affairs Minister and later as the Prime Minister.

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