George Fernandes –Former Defence Minister who held the portfolio from 2001 to 2004 is no more. He was Defence Minister under Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA Government.
He was 88 years old and was suffering from a prolonged illness. Fernandes was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and recently had contracted swine flu.
Life of George Fernandes :
George Fernandes was born on 3 June 1930 to John Joseph Fernandes and Alice Martha Fernandes (née Pinto), in Mangaluru then Mangalore to a Mangalorean Catholic family.
George Mathew Fernandes was a former Indian trade unionist, politician, journalist, agriculturist, and member of Rajya Sabha from Bihar. He was a key member of the Janata Dal and is the founder of the Samata Party. He held several ministerial portfolios including communications, industry, railways and defence.
George Fernandes – a Writer :
Fernandes liked writing and journalism even during his student days. He was the editor of a Lonkani language monthly Konkani Yuvak (Konkani Youth) in 1949. The same year, he was the editor of the Raithavani weekly in Kannada.
The Dockman weekly in English, which had ceased publication, reappeared under the editorship of Fernandes in 1952–53.Though not a prolific writer, George Fernandes has penned several books on politics such as What Ails the Socialists (1972), The Kashmir Problem, Railway Strike of 1974, Dignity for All: Essays in Socialism and Democracy (1991), and his autobiography titled George Fernandes Speaks (1991).
George Fernandes was also the editor of an English monthly, The Other Side, and the chairman on the editorial board of the Hindi monthly Pratipaksh. A human rights activist, Fernandes has been a member of the Amnesty International People’s Union for Civil Liberties and the Press Council of India.
Politicial career of George Fernandes:
Fernandes, a long-time socialist, rose to political prominence when he led the Bombay Taxi Unions Association and defeated “uncrowned king of Bombay” S.K. Patil, a Congress heavy-weight in the 1967 general election.
George Fernandes later joined the Janata Dal. He served as Railways Minister in the V.P. Singh government from 1989 to 1990. He was instrumental in setting up the Konkan Railway project, connecting Mangalore and Bombay.
In 1994, Fernandes formed the Samata Party, which later allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party. He was appointed convenor of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and served as the Defence Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government for two terms, between 1998 and 2004.
His term was eventful as it witnessed the Kargil war and Pokhran test.
We at Bangalorean.com pay our tribute to a true leader. May his soul rest in peace.