GURGAON – Former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral passed away at the Medanta Hospital here on Friday after a prolonged illness. He was 92.
Gujral, who was admitted to the hospital following a lung infection on November 19, was on the ventilator. Gujral, who was on dialysis for over a year, had suffered a serious chest infection some days ago.
Born on December 4, 1919, Gujral served as the 12th Prime Minister of India from April 1997 to March 1998.
He was Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting during the chaotic days of 1975 and thereafter, he was appointed as Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union.
Gujral left the Congress Party in the mid-1980s and joined the Janata Dal.
In the 1989 elections, Gujral was elected from the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency in Punjab. He served as Minister of External Affairs in former Prime Minister V. P. Singh’s cabinet. In 1989, Singh sent him to Srinagar to seal the deal with the kidnappers in the case of the 1989 kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed. The largest issue he had to deal with in this cabinet role was Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent events that led to the first Gulf War of January 1991.
As India’s representative, he personally met with Saddam Hussein. His hug with Hussein during the meeting remains a matter of controversy. In the 1991 mid-term parliamentary elections, Gujral contested from Patna constituency in Bihar against Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya) candidate and then-Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha. However, the election was countermanded following complaints of large-scale irregularities. In 1992, Gujral was elected to Rajya Sabha and remained a key Janata Dal leader.
After the 1996 elections, when the United Front government was formed at the center under the premiership of H. D. Deve Gowda, Gujral was again named Minister of External Affairs. During this second tenure, he propounded his ‘Gujral Doctrine’, which called for better relations with neighbours.
He also served as Union Minister or Minister of State of several other portfolios-Communications and Parliamentary Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, Works and Housing and Planning.e also participated in India’s freedom struggle, and was jailed in 1942 during the ‘Quit India Movement’.
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