Leaders across the political spectrum paid glowing tributes to former Union George Fernandes, who died on Tuesday, with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was mentored by the late socialist leader, declaring a two-day state mourning.
Stating that Fernandes “epitomised simple living and high thinking,” President Ram Nath Kovind said he was “a champion of democracy, during the Emergency and beyond”.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu described Fernandes as a “fighter” for the working class, “an upright politician, an able administrator, a great parliamentarian and above all a good human being”.
In multiple tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated, “George Sahab represented the best of India’s political leadership. Frank and fearless, forthright and farsighted, he made a valuable contribution to our country…. When we think of Fernandes, we remember most notably the fiery trade union leader who fought for justice, the leader who could humble the mightiest of politicians at the hustings.”
Former PM Manmohan Singh wrote to Fernandes’s wife Leila Kabir Fernandes, stating, “In his death our country has lost a versatile personality, who, with his unparalleled efficiency, excelled as a mass-leader and gave paramount importance to the well-being of the downtrodden of our country.”
In Patna, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who broke down while speaking with the media, called Fernandes’s demise a “personal loss” and said, “I have lost my guardian today.”
At a condolence meeting at JD(U) office in Patna, Nitish said, “George-saheb was always committed to his principles and socialist ideology…. He was not just our leader but also our guardian. The Samata Party was formed in 1994 under his leadership. Whatever opportunities I have got to serve the people, I owe it to George-saheb,” said Nitish Kumar
RJD chief Lalu Prasad, whom Fernandes and Nitish had dislodged from power in Bihar with the BJP’s help, tweeted, “Extremely saddened to hear about the demise of socialist leader, fighter and former Defence Minister Shri. #George Fernandes Sahab”.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who was in Odisha and West Bengal, addressing rallies, stated in successive tweets, “…The most abiding memories of Fernandes ji are those of his fierce opposition to the Emergency in 1975. He stood steadfastly to protect India’s democratic values”.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi posted on Facebook, “I am sorry to hear about the passing away of former Parliamentarian and Union Minister, George Fernandes. My condolences to his family and friends in this time of grief.”director of Physical Research Laboratory.