I K Gujral, a quintessential old- school politician who rose to become Prime Minister heading a rickety coalition government in the late 1990s, died here today after a brief illness.
The 92-year-old left-leaning liberal breathed his last in a private hospital here at 3.27 PM after a multi-organ failure, family sources said. He was admitted to the hospital on November 19 with a lung infection.
The former Prime Minister, who was on ventilator support, was unwell for sometime. He was on dialysis for over a year and suffered a serious chest infection some days ago.
Gujral leaves two sons, one of whom Naresh Gujral is a Rajya Sabha MP and an Akali Dal leader, and brother Satish
Gujral, who is a prominent painter and architect. His wife Sheila, who died in 2011, was a poet.
The body will be kept for public to pay respects at his residence in Janpath in central Delhi tomorrow morning and will cremated at 3 PM near Samata
Sthal, the memorial of late Jagjivan Ram.
The news of his death was conveyed to Parliament by Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde after which both the Houses adjourned. There will be a condolence references made to him on Monday.
Gujral had participated in underground activity in Punjab in his student days during freedom struggle and was in public service for decades.
An intellectual, he had propounded the 'Gujral Doctrine' of five principles for maintaining good neighbourly relations that became the hallmark of his policy of friendly relations with countries in South Asia.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Union Ministers and political leaders were among those who paid glowing tributes to the late leader.
"In his passing, the country has lost an intellectual, a scholar-statesman and a gentleman politician whose liberal and humanist vision was rooted in the teachings of the leaders of our freedom movement," the Prime Minister said in his message.
"I personally have lost a friend of long standing, whose wisdom, idealism and deep concern for social equity left a great impression on me and whose counsel and opinion I often sought and valued greatly," Singh said.
Gujral, who migrated from Pakistan after partition, rose to become the Prime Minister with a big slice of luck after he evolved from the grassroots -- starting as Vice President in NDMC in the '50s to later become a Union Minister under late Indira Gandhi and then India's Ambassador to the USSR.
He had left the Congress to join the Janata Dal in the late-1980s.
Gujral became External Affairs Minister in the V P Singh- led National Front government in 1989. As the External Affairs Minister, he handled the fallout of the Kuwait crisis following Iraqi invasion that displaced thousands of Indians.
He had a second stint as External Affairs Minister in the United Front government under H D Deve
Gowda, whom he later replaced as Prime Minister after the Congress withdrew support in the summer of 1997.
He emerged as the consensus candidate after serious differences developed among the UF leaders including Lalu Prasad
Yadav, Mulayam Singh and others as to who will become the Prime Minister.
It was another matter that his government survived only for a few months as Congress again became restive in the wake of Jain Commission report on Rajiv Gandhi's assassination and toppled the government.
Born on December 4, 1919 in Jhelum town now in Pakistan, Gujral belonged to a family of freedom fighters and had actively participated in the freedom struggle at a young age and was jailed in 1942 during the Quit India Movement.
Educated at DAV College, Haily College of Commerce and Forman Christian College, Lahore (now in Pakistan), Gujral took active part in student politics.
He became a member of the Rajya Sabha in April 1964 and was considered part of the 'coterie' that helped Indira Gandhi become Prime Minister in 1966.
Gujral was the Information and Broadcasting Minister when Emergency was imposed (on June 25, 1975), which brought in arbitrary press censorship, but was soon removed.
He was a Rajya Sabha Member twice between 1964 and 1976, a member of the Lok Sabha from 1989 to 1991. With Lalu Prasad's help, he became a member of Rajya Sabha in 1992 after his election from Patna Lok Sabha constituency was countermanded.
He was re-elected to Lok Sabha in 1998 from Jalandhar in Punjab as an independent with help from Akali
A controversial decision of his government was its recommendation for President's rule in Uttar Pradesh in 1997, which the then President K R Narayanan refused to sign and sent it back to the government for reconsideration.
Condolences poured in from all quarters. Here are some of the early reactions.
Gujral was a distinguished leader and an outstanding public figure, who served the country in various capacities including as External Affairs Ministers and Ambassador to the USSR with dedication, honesty and patriotism.In his death, India has lost an eminent son, whose absence will be felt for all times to come.
, Vice President
Gujral had the ability to win goodwill and friendship across the political spectrum. He contributed richly to several aspects of India's progress and development. We will always honour his memory.
--Sonia Gandhi, Congress President
Gujral was a talented person, well read and also a writer. He represented India absolutely well.
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--Sushil Kumar Shinde
, Home Minister
I am deeply grieved... He practised the politics of idealism and conviction. Succeeding generations would be inspired by him.
, Law Minister
Gujral's demise is a big loss to the country. Gujral followed value-based politics. He was a remarkable, great and one of the rare Parliamentarians.
--Pawan Kumar Bansal
, Railway Minister
Gujral was a seasoned and astute politician who dedicated his entire life for the cause of the nation spanning over a period of over seventy years. He not only took part in the country's freedom struggle but also contributed significantly to nation building.
--A K Antony, Defence Minister
The country has lost a totally different kind of a leader today. I pray to God that may his soul rest in peace and may God give his family the strength to bear this grief.
--Ghulam Nabi Azad, Health Minister
Gujral was a very learned person as well as a voracious reader. I pray to God to give courage to his family. He had handled important issues. He worked for the development of the country. Gujral was the Prime Minister at a crucial period and carried on the coalition
, MoS in Prime Minister's Office
I K Gujral was a versatile politician and a thinker who served the nation in various capacities with utmost dedication and sincerity. Gujral was a staunch nationalist and a great patriot, who had a thorough knowledge of international affairs.
, BJP President
Gujral's demise is a great loss for the country and the void created by
his death is difficult to fill.
--Vijay Bahuguna, Uttarakhand CM
Gujral was simple, sensitive leader with deep knowledge of foreign affairs. An expert in several languages, the former PM made an active contribution in freedom struggle and went to jail.
, Uttar Pradesh CM
Gujral was an able administrator and parliamentarian and in his death the nation lost an intellectual leader and a senior politician.
--N Kiran Kumar Reddy
, Andhra Pradesh CM
Gujral was a true patriot, an eminent statesman, able administrator and distinguished parliamentarian besides a fine human being with rare qualities of head and heart.
--Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab CM
The country has lost a sensitive politician. He will be remembered for his remarkable contribution for the development of the country," Gehlot said in his message in
, Rajasthan CM
Gujral's death has left an irreparable damage. His cool personality will be remembered forever.
--Arjun Munda, Jharkhand CM
Gujral's demise was a great and irreparable loss to the nation.He was a great freedom fighter and an excellent patriot and had proved his capabilities in all positions he had occupied.
--N Rangasamy, Puducherry CM
With Gujral's demise the country has lost an able administrator, diplomat and learned politician.
--Mulayam Singh Yadav, SP Chief
Gujral knew the old and the new generation of Indian politics and was well-versed with pre and post Independence politics of the country. He was an expert on foreign policy.
, BJP Spokesperson
Gujral had rendered long and committed service to the nation.
, CPI(M) Leader
Gujral was an eminent statesman, a distinguished parliamentarian and above all a great human being.
--Farooq Abdullah, NC President
With former PM Gujral's death the country has lost a leader of rare brilliance and dedication.
--B L Joshi
, UP Governor
The nation has lost one of its great leaders known for his intellect, perseverance and resilience.
--Iqbal Singh, Puducherry's Lt Governor