Former defence minister and anti-Emergency crusader George Fernandes passed away at the age of 88 on Tuesday following a prolonged illness, his family sources told PTI.
Fernandes, who was the Defence Minister during Atal Bihari Vajpayee led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and recently, he contacted swine flu, they said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise of the socialist leader, saying he was frank and fearless, and never deviated from his ideology.
"A visionary railway minister and a great defence minister who made India safe and strong. During his long years in public life, George Sahab never deviated from his political ideology. He resisted the Emergency tooth and nail. His simplicity and humility were noteworthy," the PM said.
George Sahab represented the best of India's political leadership.
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.
Saddened by his passing away.- Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 29, 2019
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi expressed his condolences to Fernandes' family and friends in this time of grief.
"I am sorry to hear about the passing away of former Parliamentarian & Union Minister, George Fernandes Ji," he said in a Facebook post.
Born on June 3, 1930, Fernandes was a former Indian trade unionist, politician, journalist, agriculturist, and member of Rajya Sabha from Bihar. He was the founder of the Samata Party. He has held several ministerial portfolios including communications, industry, railways, and defence. He was the Industry Minister under the Jan Sangh government which had defeated Indira Gandhi in 1977.
(With inputs from PTI)