Modi, Rahul mourn George Fernandes' passing: BJP harps on his anti-Emergency image, Congress skirts anti-Indira stance

  • Former defence minister George Fernandes passed away at the age of 88

  • Modi remembered 'George Sahab' as one of the 'most effective voices for the rights of the poor and marginalised'

  • Rajnath Singh said that India has lost 'a stalwart of India’s socialist movement'

Former defence minister George Fernandes passed away at the age of 88 on Tuesday. While tributes poured in on social media as politicians condoled the socialist leader's demise, there was an interesting distinction between the messages shared by the BJP leaders and those by the Congress.

While senior BJP leadership, like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh, party president Amit Shah, praised the socialist leader for his role during the Emergency, Congress leaders stayed clear of any mention of the 'E' word or the former Union minister's anti-Indira Gandhi stance. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said, "I’m sorry to hear about the passing of former Parliamentarian & Union Minister, George Fernandes Ji. My condolences to his family and friends in this time of grief."

In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remembered "George Sahab" as one of the "most effective voices for the rights of the poor and marginalised".

"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," he said.

He further said, "When we think of George Fernandes, we remember most notably the fiery trade union leader who fought for justice, the leader who could humble the mightiest of politicians at the hustings, a visionary railway minister and a great defence minister who made India safe and strong."

President Ram Nath Kovind hailed the former Union minister as "a champion of democracy".

National general secretary of the BJP Ram Madhav called Fernandes "a man of the masses." "He rose from them, lived like one throughout his life, kept his doors open to them 24/7, and practised politics of principles. A great nationalist, he was the right hand man of Atalji in managing a very difficult 23-Party NDA coalition. Railways to Defence - his contribution to governance and nation-building was yeomen. Tributes to the inspiring life of a great leader."

While Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot offered him a "tearful tribute", Textile Minister Smriti Irani tweeted that Fernandes' contribution towards strengthening democracy "will be etched in the hearts & minds of Indians forever".


Congress spokespersons Abhishek Manu Singhvi — who tweeted quotes by Fernandes — and Randeep Singh Surjewala also condoled the death.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said that after spending an evening with "the fiery trade unionist", he was "hugely impressed by his ideals, decency and integrity".

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, "Rest in peace, George Fernandes Sahib. You were a tireless crusader fighting for the voiceless, the marginalised & for those that needed someone in their corner. You called a spade a spade and did so unabashedly. You were always a friend and well wisher of the people of Jammu and Kashmir." Calling Fernandes his role model, Sharad Yadav said that the two were associated for more than four decades.

Updated Date: Jan 29, 2019 12:17:28 IST