The mortal remains of George Fernandes were Thursday cremated in New Delhi amid chants of ‘George Sahab amar rahe’ as family, friends and admirers gathered to bid an emotional goodbye to the socialist leader.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, BJP veteran L K Advani, Union ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Ravi Shankar Prasad, senior leaders Sharad Yadav and Upendra Kushwaha were among those who attended the cremation at the Lodhi electric crematorium.
The mortal remains of the former defence minister were brought from his home in a wooden casket on a military truck.
Chants of ‘George Sahab amar rahe’ (long live George Sahab), ‘Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Goerge tera naam rahega’ (Your name will be as immortal as the sun and the moon) also rent the air at the crematorium as his body was placed at a platform there for people to pay respect.
Besides family members, including wife Leila Kabir, son Sean and Fernandes’s brothers, the leader’s close associate Jaya Jaitly and former cricketer Ajay Jadeja also were present during the cremation.
An hour-long prayer service was held in the morning at Fernandes’s residence — Shanti Niwas — at Panchsheel Park with the Bihar chief minister visiting the family again before the cremation that took place at 3 pm.
Fernandes died Tuesday at the age of 88 at his residence after prolonged illness. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s disorder that had left him debilitated.
His body had been preserved in a glass casket earlier and kept in the living room, with the family awaiting his son’s arrival from the US to attend the last rites.
Sean, who arrived here Wednesday night from New York, said, “For others, he may have been a minister or a political stalwart, but for me, he was just dad.”
“Everyone’s trying to claim a part of his legacy and that makes me feel proud. He may have physically left us, but his values and ideals live on in others. And he was a very good man, who worked for the downtrodden,” he told PTI.
The ashes from the cremation will be buried at the Prithviraj Road Christian Cemetery on Friday, Kabir said.
Senior leaders, veteran politicians and admirers from various parts of the country had been making a beeline to Shanti Niwas here to pay their last respect to Fernandes in the last three days.
Former defence minister A K Antony also visited this morning, a family friend said.
Kumar had also visited the socialist leader’s family on Tuesday and recounted Fernandes’s role in shaping his political career.
The burial is slated to be held at 11 am at colonial-era cemetery located in the heart of the city in Lutyens’ Delhi.