Former Defense Minister George Fernandes passes away at 88

Former Defense Minister George Fernandes passed away at 88.

George Fernandes, the former Defense Minister of India, has died at 88. He had been unwell and bedridden over the past few years. George Fernandes served as the Defence Minister of India between 1998 and 2004.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted a serious of condolence tweets-


One of the most prominent leaders of the socialist movement in the 1970s, George Fernandes was a senior Janata Dal leader before he founded the Samata Party.

Apart from the defense ministery during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government, Mr. Fernandes held several ministerial portfolios including communications, industry, and railways.

Mr. Fernades was born in Mangaluru in 1930 and was training to be a Roman Catholic priest when he was drawn to the politics.

He rose to prominence after his surprise victory in the 1967 parliamentary elections, over a Congress veteran in Mumbai. In 1974, he organized a nationwide railway strike.

The hero of Indian politics

During the 1975 Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government, George Fernandes was arrested for what was dubbed the “Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy” to blow up government establishments and railway tracks. He contested the 1977 election from jail and won the Muzaffarpur constituency in Bihar by a landslide.

George Fernandes became a hero of the Emergency. He was made minister when the Janata Party came to power in 1977 with Morarji Desai as Prime Minister. One of his prominent acts at the time was to force the exit of Coca Cola and IBM, which had refused to dilute their stake in their Indian associates. Coke left India and returned only two decades later.

As Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Defence Minister, Mr. Fernandes oversaw the Pokhran nuclear tests of 1998 and the Kargil war.

George Fernandes stepped down as the Defence Minister in 2004 after the Tehelka expose that cast a shadow on his final years in office. George Fernandes was a parliamentarian last as a Rajya Sabha member in 2009-2010.



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