Former Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh passes away

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Shimla, Jul 8 (PTI) Six-time Himachal Pradesh chief minister and senior Congress leader Virbhadra Singh died here early Thursday after prolonged illness. He was 87.

The veteran leader breathed his last at the Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) here at 3.40 am, senior medical superintendent, Dr. Janak Raj, said.

Singh suffered from a heart attack on Monday and was critical since then. He was put on ventilator support on Wednesday after he had breathing problems, doctors said.

The nine-time MLA and five-time MP is survived by wife Pratibha Singh, son Vikramaditya Singh and four daughters.

The cremation will be held at Rampur on July 10 at 3 pm, family spokesperson Yashwant Chhajta said.

Singh’s body has been kept at his residence at Holly Lodge in Jakhu, Shimla.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and BJP President Jagat Prakash Nadda condoled the demise of Singh.

The Himachal Pradesh government on Thursday declared a three-day state mourning as a mark of respect to Singh.

Singh had tested positive for COVID-19 on June 11 for the second time in two months.He had earlier tested positive for the disease on April 12.

He had returned to his home in Holly Lodge here on April 30 from the Chandigarh hospital after getting cured of the first infection.

However, he was admitted to IGMC within hours after reaching home, as he complained of cardiac and breathing problems. He was in the hospital ever since then.

Hailing from the royal family of Rampur Bushar, Singh was born on June 23, 1934 at Sarahan.

He got married to Rattan Kumari in 1954. Kumari died in 1983 leaving behind four daughters including Abhilasha Kumari, currently judicial member of Lokpal Committee.

One of the four daughters, Anuradha, died a few years ago.

Singh later got married to Pratibha Singh in 1985 and had a daughter and son Vikramaditya Singh, who is now the Shimla rural MLA.

An alumnus of the Bishop Cotton School, Shimla and St. Stephen's College, Delhi, Singh had a masters degree.

The veteran Congress leader served as chief minister of the state for six times from April 8, 1983 to March 5, 1990, December 3, 1993 to March 23, 1998 and from March 6, 2003 to December 29, 2007 and for the sixth time from December 25, 2012 to December 26, 2017.

Singh was the leader of Opposition from March 1998 to March 2003.

The veteran Congress leader also served as union deputy minister, Tourism and Civil Aviation, minister of state for industries, union minister of steel and Union minister of micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME).

He was re-elected to the 13th Vidhan Sabha in December 2017 from the Arki Assembly Constituency in Solan district.

Earlier, he was elected to the state legislative assembly in October 1983 (by-election); re-elected in 1985 from Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly constituency, in 1990, 1993, 1998, 2003 & 2007 from Rohru assembly constituency and in 2012 from Shimla rural assembly constituency.

He was also elected to third Lok Sabha in 1962; re-elected to the fourth Lok Sabha in 1967 from Mahasu Constituency, fifth Lok Sabha in 1971 , seventh Lok Sabha in 1980 and 15th Lok Sabha (5th term) in May 2009 from Mandi Lok Sabha Constituency.

Singh served as Himachal Pradesh Congress president in 1977, 1979, 1980 and from 26th August, 2012 to December 2012.

Himachal Pradesh Governor Bandaru Dattatraya, Chief Minister Thakur and a host of other leaders condoled the demise of Singh.

The governor visited Holly Lodge to pay his condolences to the bereaved family. Terming Singh's death as an irreparable loss for Himachal, Thakur said the void created due to his death would never be filled. Singh's contribution to the development of the state is exemplary which will never be forgotten, he added. His strong will power and significant work will be an inspiration for us, he added. Shimla MP and BJP state President Suresh Kashyap, BJP HP incharge Avinash Rai Khanna also expressed their condolences on his death. In his condolence message, State Congress president Kuldeep Singh Rathore said, 'No words, Speechless, End of the Era.' In a Facebook post in Hindi, Leader of Opposition in the HP Assembly, Mukesh Agnihotri, said 'End of an era. The king of hearts is no more. Humble tribute.' Condoling his death, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh described the former Himachal chief minister as an able administrator and a gentleman.

“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing away of former Himachal CM Raja Virbhadra Singh Ji. An able administrator and a gentleman who was loved by the people, he was not just an elder brother but also a mentor to many to us. May God grant his soul eternal peace,” said Amarinder in a tweet.

Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda also expressed condolences over Singh's death. PTI DJI SKC RS DV DV

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