George Mathew Fernandes, former Defence Minister, passed away at the age of 88 on Tuesday, in New Delhi, following a prolonged illness according to reports.
According to reports, the politico, was suffering from Alzheimer’s and had recently contracted Swine Flu.
Fernandes had served as the Defence Minister between 1998 and 2004 in the NDA government led by late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
He also served as the Union Minister of Railways and Communications during his stint as a parliamentarian.
Known as an anti-Emergency crusader and a civil rights activist, he was arrested during the 1975 Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi government.
A key member of the Janata Dal, in 1994, Fernandes founded the Samata Party, which later on, merged to become Janata Dal (United). Fernandes had also been a senior member in the cabinet of Morarji Desai, in 1997.
Tributes poured in on Twitter, immediately after the reports of his demise.
When we think of Mr. 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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 29, 2019
Distressed to learn of the passing of Shri George Fernandes, who served India in many capacities, including as Defence Minister. He epitomised simple living and high thinking. And was a champion of democracy, during the Emergency and beyond. We will all miss him #PresidentKovind— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) January 29, 2019
Very sad to hear about George Fernandes’ demise. He was a very good friend in his later years. Earlier we had ideological. differences due to his being socialist and I for market based economy but we were united in opposing TDK and residual Nehru family.— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) January 29, 2019
Saddened by the demise of former Defence Minister George Fernandes. An able administrator, a distinguished politician, his contribution towards strengthening democracy will be etched in the hearts & minds of Indians forever. My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones. Om Shanti🙏🏼— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) January 29, 2019
Heartfelt condolences on the passing away of former Defence Minister Sh. George Fernandes. My thoughts and prayers are with his family…May his soul rest in peace.— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) January 29, 2019
Travel well George Fernandes. What a life! What a man! A man of integrity and courage. His last years were painful but his life is an example in steadfastness and courage. Om Shanti. https://t.co/v7Hjno1D17— Sunanda Vashisht (@sunandavashisht) January 29, 2019
Saddened by the demise of #GeorgeFernandes ji – a stalwart of Indian politics, an able administrator and above all, a people’s person.— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) January 29, 2019
Deeply saddened by the passing away of India’s former Defence Minister George Fernandes ji. Today we have lost a stalwart of India’s socialist movement. He devoted his entire life for the welfare and uplift of the poor and marginalised. My heartfelt condolences to his family.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) January 29, 2019
His term as the Defence Minister was eventful as it witnessed the Kargil war and Pokhran test. He will always be remembered for his contributions to India’s Defence sector.
May his soul rest in peace.