Former union minister Jaswant Singh dies

Joanna Estrada
September 27, 2020

He was 82 and died after a prolonged illness.

Singh, a former army officer, had been ill after a fall at his home in August 2014 and was admitted to the Army Research and Referral Hospital.

Jaswant Singh passed away at 6:55 am this morning after a cardiac arrest at the Army Hospital (R&R) where he was being treated for Sepsis with Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome, hospital authorities said.

Despite the best efforts of the attending team of specialists to resuscitate him, he could not be revived and passed away, it added.

"As a member of the Vajpayee Government, he singularly and deftly handled the three most important portfolios of External Affairs, Defence and Finance". He was among the founding members of the current Hindu nationalist ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.

The senior leader held the crucial finance, external affairs and defence portfolios during his career. He was one of the key political leaders of the BJP during the tenure of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) under Vajpayee between 1998-2004.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered condolences over Singh's death in a series of tweets and said he "will be remembered for his unique perspective on matters of politics and society".

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also expressed his grief. Later, he was again given the charge of finance in 2002. Singh also served as the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission from 1998-99.

Considered close to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, the BJP leader was made the Defence Minister following the resignation of George Fernandes after the latter's name cropped up in a defence scam.

Singh is being credited for improving the US-India relations after the 1999 nuclear blast that attracted the sanctions.

"Deeply pained by the passing away of veteran BJP leader & former Minister, Shri Jaswant Singh ji". He was also the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha between 2004-2009. He had written sympathetically about the founder of Pakistan. Later, the BJP leader was marginalised within the party and subsequently expelled.

He was reinducted into the party after 10 months but faced a second expulsion a few years later.

Jaswant Singh's relationship with the BJP became hard after he did not get an election ticket in the 2014 general elections.

While that controversy created a lasting debate on how to deal with such situation in the future and beefing up security at Indian airports, Singh was caught in another controversy when the BJP lost elections in 2009.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla remembered Singh as a skilled politician. He is survived by his wife and two sons, including former Barmer MP Manvendra Singh.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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