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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Before Jayalalithaa, 16 chief ministers who died in office

This is not the first time that chief ministers in India have died while in office and states went through similar political upheavals in the event of the deaths.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 7, 2016 9:26:56 pm
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Tamil Nadu was thrown into turmoil after it lost its serving chief minister J Jayalalithaa this Monday. Her loyalist and senior All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader O Panneerselvam was swiftly anointed her successor while Sasikala Natarajan, a long-time confidante of the late AIADMK leader, is likely to take over as party’s general secretary. Amid talks that the two would be no match to Jayalalithaa’s charisma and popularity, political commentators are even speculating a split in the party.

WATCH | J.Jayalalithaa’s Life Journey

However, this is not the first time that chief ministers in India have died while in office and states went through similar political upheavals in the event of the deaths. A look at such instances:

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Jammu & Kashmir  (January 7, 2016)

After a prolonged illness and a two-week stay in the Intensive Care Unit of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister died of multiple organ failure. His death came just months after he had sworn in for his second term as chief minister in the controversial PDP-BJP alliance. Mufti’s death was followed by a three-month period of uncertainty in J&K where the state remained under government rule with alliance parties in power looking to renegotiate the terms. On April 4, 2016, his daughter and incumbent party chief Mehbooba Mufti took charge as CM.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed waves to an admirer on the Dal Lake. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed waves to an admirer on the Dal Lake.

Dorjee Khandu, Arunachal Pradesh (April 30, 2011)

The Arunachal Pradesh chief minister was killed when his Pawan Hans A350-B3 helicopter crashed 20 minutes after taking off. His body, along with other crew member and wreckage from the chopper were found five days later near the India-China border. A Congress leader, Khandu was sworn in as CM on April 9, 2007. He was succeeded by Jarbom Gamlin for the rest of the term. Pema Khandu, his son, is the present chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh.

YSR Reddy, Andhra Pradesh  (September 2, 2009)

Dr Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy famously known as Y S Rajasekhara Reddy or YSR was a popular political figure in the South Indian politics. He was serving his second term as chief minister when he died in a fatal helicopter crash. The helicopter carrying him from Hyderabad to Chittoor deviated 18 km from its path before it hit a cliff and crashed. State finance minister K Rosaiah, the senior most Congress leader at the time, was sworn in as his successor.

YSR Reddy, late chief minister of Andhra Pradesh YSR Reddy, late chief minister of Andhra Pradesh

Beant Singh, Punjab (August 31, 1995)

On the fateful day, a human bomb attack planned by terror outfit Babbar Khalsa International killed Beant Singh outside the state secretariat in Chandigarh. Under the former chief minister’s tenure, the state witnessed a rise in insurgency along with claims of human rights violations towards pro-Khalistani movement by Punjab Police. Congress leader Harcharan Singh Brar succeeded him in office.

Chimanbhai Patel, Gujarat (February 17, 1994)

The former Gujarat chief minister died due to heart failure in an Ahmedabad hospital. Even as Chimanbhai’s wife and Rajya Sabha member Urmilaben was made to step in his shoes even before the last rites were complete, she found herself pitted against his second-in-command, Congress leader Chhabildas Mehta, who was sworn in as interim chief minister, two days after Patel’s death.

MG Ramachandran, Tamil Nadu (December 24, 1987)

MGR’s death, like Jayalalithaa’s, marked the end of an era in Tamil Nadu politics. Three years before his demise, he suffered a stroke and kidney failure from which he never fully recovered. On December 24, he died in sleep. A dramatic turn of events followed his death as power tussle between his wife Janaki and Jayalalithaa unfolded. In the end, Jayalalithaa went on to be the chief of AIADMK with a large number of supporters backing her.

MG Ramachandran with wife Janaki and her niece Latha MG Ramachandran with wife Janaki and her niece Latha

Sheikh Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir (September 8, 1982)

The leader and founder of National Conference (NC), Sheikh remained in a critical state of health for many months before he breathed his last. Even as accusations of corruption surrounded the late J&K CM, his supporters remained undeterred. Wrapped in the national flag, the body of late Sheikh was carried in a funeral procession that took over eight hours to cover a distance of around 10 kilometres. His grandson and former J&K CM Omar Abdullah is the present party NC chief.

Barkatullah Khan, Rajasthan  (October 11, 1973)

The 53-year-old died in Jaipur after suffering from a heart attack. The first Muslim chief minister of the state, Khan was reportedly picked by Indira Gandhi after the 1971 general elections.

Dayanand Bandodkar, Goa  (August 12, 1973)

Goa’s first chief minister after Portugal returned the territory to India, Dayanand Bandodkar held office for three consecutive terms until his death. Leader and founder of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, he had proposed to merge Goa with Maharashtra. A proposal that was met with strong opposition from the locals and eventually voted against in Parliament. Dayanand was succeeded by his daughter, Shashikala Kakodkar.


CN Annadurai (February 3, 1969)

Founder of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Annadurai became the first member of a Dravidian party to hold the office of Tamil Nadu chief minister. Two years into his term, he died battling cancer. The attendance at his funeral, estimated to be over 10 million. had the highest attendance of any to that date, earning it a Guinness record.

Balwantrai Mehta, Gujarat (September 19, 1965)

Mehta was the second chief minister of the state of Gujarat serving from February, 1963 to September, 1965. During the Indo-Pak war in 1965, a civilian aircraft that carried Mehta, his wife, three aides, two journalists and two pilots, was shot down by a Pakistani fighter jet killing all on board. Pakistani controllers had mistaken the civilian aircraft for a reconnaissance flight. 46 years later, the pilot of the Pakistani jet wrote an e-mail to the daughter of the chief Indian pilot expressing regret for his actions.

Marotrao Kannamwar, Maharashtra  (November 24, 1963)

Kannamwar was elected as the second chief minister of Maharashtra after the Assembly elections of 1962. He represented the Saoli Vidhan Sabha constituency in Bombay State in 1957 and of the Maharashtra State from 1960-1962. He was re-elected fron Saoli in 1962 elections to the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha.

A statue of Bidhan Chandra Roy A statue of Bidhan Chandra Roy

Bidhan Chandra Roy, West Bengal (July 1, 1962)

Elected in 1948 as second chief minister of West Bengal, Bidhan Chandra Roy held office for 14 years, until his death in 1962. He was a highly respected physician and a well-known freedom fighter. Every year on July 1, the date of his birth (and death), National Doctors’ Day is celebrated in India. He was also awarded the country’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna on February 4, 1961.

Sri Krishna Singh, Bihar  (January 31, 1961)

Except for the period of World War II, Sri Krishna Singh was the chief minister of Bihar since he took office in 1937 until his death 24 years later. He was the first chief minister of any Indian state to abolish the zamindari system. Considered one of the architects of Modern Bihar, Singh was often called “Bihar Kesari” for his lion-like roars when he rose to address the masses.

Ravishankar Shukla, Madhya Pradesh (December 31, 1956)

Shukla served as the premier of the Central Provinces and Berar from April 1946 and January 1950 before he became the first chief minister of the recognised state of Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 1956. He died shortly after on December 31, 1956.

Gopinath Bordoloi, Assam (August 6, 1950)

After serving as the prime minister of undivided state of Assam since April 1946, Gopinath Bordoloi became the first chief minister of the recognised Indian state in 1950 for a short period before his death.


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