Gujral was a man of peace: Manmohan Singh

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 13:10 hrs

New Delhi, Nov 30 (IANS) Saying he had a lost a friend of long standing, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday condoled the death of former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral and said the country has lost "an intellectual, a scholar-statesman and a gentleman politician" who was a "man of peace".

Gujral died at 3.27 p.m. Friday at a Gurgaon hospital from lung infection. He was 93.

"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," Manmohan Singh said in a message.

"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," he added.

Calling Gujral, "a man of peace, an idealist who lived by his principles and an intellectual with the human touch," Manmohan Singh said the leader's 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.

As a diplomat, Gujral helped consolidate India's ties with Russia and the non-aligned world, said the prime minister adding that he also restored India-Bangladesh relations with the Ganga waters agreement, rebuild the structure of dialogue with Pakistan and initiated the negotiations on the historic India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement as minister for external affairs.

"As prime minister, he set an example of grace under pressure, of composure in difficult circumstances and of steadfastness to principles."

"He will also be missed in south Asia, where his determined quest for a future of peace, friendship and cooperation was epitomised by the eponymous Gujral Doctrine, still invoked by men of goodwill in the subcontinent the best tribute to him would be to rededicate ourselves to the principles by which he lived his life," Manmohan Singh said.

Gujral died at Medanta Medicity, where he was admitted with a lung infection Nov 19 and was on ventilator.

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