Former Union Minister K C Pant, who had served under late Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and switched to BJP in the late 1990s, died here today.
He was 81.
Known for his erudition and persuasive manners, Krishna Chandra Pant belonged to the old school of politicians whose administrative acumen earned him plum responsibilities in Union Government and prominent role in Parliament.
Son of a freedom fighter and former UP Chief Minister and Union Home Minister Govind Ballabh Pant, K C Pant was known for his negotiating skills that late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi chose him as the chief negotiator to work out a deal with the protagonists of the separate Telangana movement in the 1970s.
As Minister of State for Home Affairs, he was successful in evolving an agreement that led to 'Mulki Rules' that gave prominence to recruitment of locals in jobs in the region in Andhra Pradesh government service.
Born in 1931 in Nainital, Pant was a post graduate in science and joined Congress to enter politics.
Pant first got elected to Lok Sabha in 1962 and was reelected in 1967, 1971 and 1989. Between 1978 and 1984, he was elected to Rajya Sabha and was the Leader of the House during 1979-1980 when Charan Singh became Prime Minister.
During his political career spanning over 40 years, Pant had held the portfolios of Finance, Defence, Steel and Heavy Engineering, Irrigation and Power and Energy.
After his long association with Congress, he switched to BJP in 1998 when it emerged as a ruling party and Vajpayee made him Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission in 2000. His wife Ila contested on a BJP ticket from Nainital in 1998 and won the poll.
As Defence Minister, Pant had succeeded V P Singh in 1987 and at the height of Bofors controversy defended the government in Parliament during debates on the CAG report on the arms scandal.
He had also served in the ministries of Education and Department of Science and Technology, Atomic Energy and Electronics and Space.
Pant was also the Chairman of Tenth Finance Commission, Energy Advisory Board, Task Force on National Security Council, Infrastructure and Member of the National Security Council.
A widely travelled person, he has represented India in international arena on various occasions, including in the Human Rights Commission, Indian delegation to the UN and the Ministerial meeting of GATT in Urugay.
Born in Nainital in 1931, Pant was a post graduate in science and joined Congress to enter politics.
Soon after hearing about Pant's death, Defence Minister A K Antony rushed to his residence to pay homage but after reaching there he was told that the body has been taken for cremation.
"Pant steered the Ministry at one of the most critical junctures of history as the Indian Peace Keeping Forces were deployed in Sri Lanka as a stepping stone to the tortuous journey for peace in the island nation.
"The Indian troops were also deployed at short notice in Maldives to abort a coup attempt, in a clear manifestation of our commitment to the promotion of peace and stability in South Asian Region," he said.
Antony also remembered Pant as one who bolstered the armed forces in a big way with the acquisition of country's flagship aircraft carrier INS Viraat and MIG-29 aircraft among many other acquisitions.
"He was also instrumental in the setting up of the first Coast Guard Air Station at Daman," Antony said.
Born in 1931 in Nainital, Pant was a post graduate in science and joined Congress to enter politics. Pant first got elected to Lok Sabha in 1962 and was reelected in 1967, 1971 and 1989.
Pant, who later became the Chairman of Tenth Finance Commission, was also elected to Rajya Sabha in 1978 and was Leader of the House during 1979-1980.
In a condolence letter to Pant's wife Ila, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the country has lost an eminent public figure and an able administrator.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of your husband Shri K C Pant. Shri Pant served our country and people with great distinction in his long political career," Singh wrote in the letter.
Expressing his "deepest condolences" to the family, Singh said, "He (Pant) distinguished himself as a Member of Parliament and as a Minister in the Union Council of Ministers holding important portfolios like Home, Defence and Finance."
"On this sad occasion, I convey my deepest condolences to you and other members of the family. I pray for the departed soul," Singh added.
Defence Minister A K Antony in his message expressed "profound grief" at the sad passing away of Pant.
Stating that Pant's contribution will be fondly remembered, he said, "Pant steered the Ministry at one of the most critical junctures of history as the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) was deployed in Sri Lanka as a stepping stone to the tortuous journey for peace in the island nation."
Referring to the Operation Cactus conducted by Indian armed forces in Maldives, he said, "The Indian troops were also deployed at short notice in Maldives to abort a coup attempt, in a clear manifestation of our commitment to the promotion of peace and stability in South Asian Region."
Recalling the steps taken during Pant's tenure as Defence Minister which bolstered the image of the Indian defence forces, Antony said, "The acquisition of the country’s flagship aircraft carrier INS Viraat and Mig-29 aircraft were among many other acquisitions during his tenure as the Defence Minister."
Pant was also instrumental in the setting up of the first Coast Guard Air Station at Daman, Antony said.
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia also expressed grief over the death of Pant, who headed the Commission during Atal Bihari Vajpayee tenure as the Prime Minister.
In his message to the family, Ahluwalia said, "He (Pant) played an important role in giving a much needed thrust to the development process keeping in mind changing circumstances.
"His contribution in bringing the focus on Infrastructure Development particularly road development would be remembered for long."
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also expressed profound grief at the demise of former union minister K C Pant.
Pant was a respected politician and an able administrator, who contributed immensely in modernization of the armed forces during his stint as the union defence minister, Kumar said in a condolence message.
Former Union Minister K.C. Pant Dead
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