George Fernandes, a former Defence Minister of India who served between 1998 and 2004, has died at 88. He is one of the top leaders of the socialist movement in the 1970s, and was a senior Janata Dal leader before he founded the Samata Party. Mr Fernandes held several ministerial portfolios including communications, industry and railways.
As Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Defence Minister, George Fernandes oversaw the Pokhran nuclear tests of 1998 and the Kargil war. He had been unwell and bedridden over the past few years.
Condoling his death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “George Sahab represented the best of India’s political leadership. Frank and fearless, forthright and farsighted, he made a valuable contribution to our country. He was among the most effective voices for the rights of the poor and marginalised. Saddened by his passing away.”