George Fernandes passes away at 88: Family awaits son's arrival from US; ex-defence minister's funeral to be held in New Delhi

Former defence minister George Fernandes passed away at his New Delhi residence on Tuesday. He was 88. Fernandes was unwell and bed-ridden for the past few years. According to India Today, the former Union minister was suffering from swine flu and breathed his last at 7 am. According to The Hindu, the family is awaiting his son Sean Fernandes' arrival from the United States to proceed with funeral arrangements. Funeral to be held in New Delhi.

Fernandes served as the defence minister in the NDA government under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee between 1998 and 2004. He was out of the public glare after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. His last stint as a Parliamentarian was as a Rajya Sabha MP between August 2009 to July 2010.

A native of Mangaluru, Fernandes was the founder of the Samata Party. He rose to fame as an anti-Emergency crusader and civil rights activists and served as a Union minister in the Janata Party government headed by Morarji Desai that came to power in 1977 to 1980.

His name figured prominently in 'Operation West End', a sting operation by Tehelka. Fernandes stepped down as the defence minister in 2004 after the "coffingate" scam broke out. The alleged coffin scam was based on allegations that poor quality aluminium caskets were bought from the US at rates 13 times more than the actual price, to transport the bodies of slain soldiers after the Kargil War. He was later absolved by two commissions of inquiry.

Several politicians including Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and NCP leader Nawak Malik condoled the demise of Fernandes.

During the 1975 Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government, Fernandes was arrested for what was dubbed the "Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy" and jailed along with hundreds of other political activists. He contested the 1977 election from jail and won the Muzaffarpur constituency by a landslide.

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Updated Date: Jan 29, 2019 10:26:07 IST

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