Hans Raj Bhardwaj, former Union Law minister, dies at 82

Former Union law minister H R Bhardwaj. (File)

Former Union Law Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj passed away Sunday due to a cardiac arrest, PTI quoted his family as saying. Bhardwaj, 82, was a Congress leader and part of the UPA government, holding the second-longest tenure in the Law ministry.

He was the Karnataka Governor between 2009 and 2014 and was given additional charge as the Governor of Kerala in January 2012, which he left in March 2013.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief on the Congress leader's death, as the Prime Minister's Office wrote o Twitter quoting him: "Anguished by the passing away of former Minister Shri Hans Raj Bhardwaj. My thoughts are with his family and well-wishers in this hour of grief. Om Shanti."

Ahead of his retirement, the Congressman was in news for his comments on the Grand Old Party's high command. In various instances, Bhardwaj was often heard saying that Congress top leadership was incapable of reviving the party.

A five-time Member of the Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, Bhardwaj was the junior minister of Law in the Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao governments for a duration of nine years. However, he had never taken the Lok Sabha poll plunge due to a lack of grassroots-level support.

He was elevated to the rank of a Cabinet minister by Sonia Gandhi in the UPA-1 government. Bhardwaj's affair with politics began when he first met former prime minister Indira Gandhi and became an MP in 1982. Bhardwaj was part of Gandhi's 'judicial circle' and was an important figure. He retained a similar relationship with her son, Rajiv Gandhi.

While Congress won the 2009 Lok Sabha elections with a huge mandate, Bhardwaj lost his coveted Law Ministry to M Veerappa Moily and was kept out of the Cabinet. However, the Congress leadership reinstated him as the Governor of Karnataka during Yediyurappa's rule.

Bhardwaj's tenure as both, law minister and Governor, was marred by controversies. His name was highlighted in the Bofors scam in the alleged 'let off' of the main accused Ottavio Quattrocchi.