India’s former defence minister George Fernandes dies at the age of 88. Mr. Fernandes was unwell and bedridden for some time. He was the defence minister of India during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government between 1998 and 2004.
Apart from being the defence minister Fernandes held various positions in the government of India in industry and railways. He was a strong socialist leader was and a member of the Janata Dal before he founded the Samata Party.
Mr. Fernandes was born in Mangalore in 1930 wanted to be a priest at the age of 16. Things changed for him when he moved to Bombay in 1949 to join a socialist trade union. He won a Mumbai parliamentary election seat in 1967 defeating the Congress.
He conducted various railway strikes during the Indira Gandhi emergency period in 1975. George Fernandes was finally arrested in 1976, he won the Muzaffarpur Lok Sabha seat by a landslide margin from jail in 1977. He became an emergency hero and was made minister when Morarji Desai was Prime Minister.
Again in 1998 he was made incharge of ministry of defence during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government and was part of the India’s nuclear test program ‘Pokhran’ and the Kargil war. He eventually quit over corruption scandals.