TODAY -

Former PM IK Gujral no more
Source: The Sangai Express / Agencies

Gurgaon, November 30 2012: Former Prime Minister I K Gujral, who headed a rickety coalition government in the late 1990s, died today after a brief illness.

Gujral, 92, breathed his last at 3.27 PM in a private hospital after a multi-organ failure.

He was admitted to the hospital on November 19 with a lung infection, family sources said.

The former Prime Minister, who was ventilator support, had been unwell for sometime.

He was on dialysis for over a year and suffered a serious chest infection some days ago.

He will be cremated in nearby Delhi tomorrow.

Gujral, who migrated from Pakistan after partition, rose to become the Prime Minister with a big slice of luck after he came up through the ranks starting as Vice President in NDMC in the '50s to later become a Union Minister and then India's Ambassador to the USSR.

Educated at DAV College, Haily College of Commerce and Forman Christian College, Lahore (now in Pakistan), Gujral took active part in student politics.

After the tumultuous events that rocked the Indian sub-continent in the wake of partition in August 1947, Gujral crossed over to India.



IK Gujral
IK Gujral


Braving heavy odds with his perseverance, resilience and never-say-die attitude, Gujral first became vice-president of the New Delhi Municipal Committee in 1958.He formally joined Congress and six years later, Indira Gandhi, to whom he said he owed everything, gave him a ticket with which he entered Rajya Sabha in April 1964 .

This was the beginning of a long innings, both in the national politics and diplomacy.

He was part of the 'coterie' that helped Indira Gandhi become Prime Minister in 1966.In Gandhi's government, he held several portfolios as Union Minister for Communications, Parliamentary Affairs and Housing.

He was the Information and Broadcasting Minister when Emergency was imposed (on June 25, 1975), which brought in arbitrary press censorship.

Since he refused to kowtow to the powers-that-be, he was taken out of the Ministry and sent by Indira Gandhi as Ambassador to Moscow, a post he handled with tact and finesse.

He continued even during the tenures of her two successors, Morarji Desai and Charan Singh.

Gujral, an intellectual who propounded the 'Gujral Doctrine' of five principles for maintaining good neighbourly relations, left the Congress to join the Janata Dal in the late-1980s.He became Minister of External Affairs in the V P Singh-led National Front government in 1989.As the External Affairs Minister he handled the fallout of the Kuwait crisis following Iraqi invasion that displaced thousands of Indians.

Gujral had a second stint as External Affairs Minister in the United Front government under H D Deve Gowda, whom he later replaced as Prime Minister after the Congress withdrew support in the summer of 1997 .

He emerged as the consensus candidate after serious differences developed among the UF leaders including Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh and others as to who will become the Prime Minister.

It was another matter that his government survived only for a few months as Congress again became restive in the wake of Jain Commission report on Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.

In the 1989 elections, Gujral was elected from Jalandhar parliamentary constituency in Punjab and he became Minister for External Affairs, first under V P Singh (in December 1989) and then under Deve Gowda (in June 1996) .

He was a Rajya Sabha Member twice between 1964 and 1976, a member of the Lok Sabha from 1989 to 1991.With Lalu Prasad's help, he became a member of Rajya Sabha in 1992 after his election from Patna Lok Sabha constituency was countermanded.

He was re-elected to Lok Sabha in 1998 from Jalandhar in Punjab as an independent with help from Akali Dal.

Exigencies and coalition pressures felled his government in just 10 months when the Congress party decided to withdraw support to the United Front.

A controversial decision of his government was its recommendation for President's rule in Uttar Pradesh in 1997, which the then President K R Narayanan refused to sign and sent it back to the government for reconsideration.

His wife, Sheila, who died in 2011, was a poet and author and his brother Satish Gujral is a prominent painter and architect.

He leaves two sons, one of whom Naresh Gujral is a Rajya Sabha MP and now an Akali Dal leader.


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