Gurgoan, Nov 30, 2012: Former Prime Minister IK Gujral, who headed a rickety coalition government in the late 1990s, died on Friday 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 on Saturday.
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.
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 VP 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 HD 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.
BIODATA OF I. K. GUJRAL
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Inder Kumar Gujral (4 December 1919 – 30 November 2012) was a former Indian politician who served as the 12th Prime Minister of India from April 1997 to March 1998. Gujral was the second PM to govern exclusively from the Rajya Sabha, first being his immediate predecessor H.D. Deve Gowda.
Early and personal life
He participated in India’s freedom struggle, and was jailed in 1942 during the ‘Quit India Movement’.
He spoke Urdu and spent part of his leisure time writing Urdu couplets. His wife, Sheila Gujral, died on 11 July 2011. She was a prominent poet and author of several books in Punjabi, Hindi and English languages. His brother Satish Gujral is a prominent painter and architect. Gujral has two sons, Naresh and Vishal Gujral. His elder son, Naresh, is a Member of the Rajya Sabha. His niece, Medha, is married to Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalota. I.K. Gujral died on 30th November 2012.
Minister in Indira Gandhi government
In the tumultuous days of June 1975, he was Minister of Information and Broadcasting. On 12 June 1975, the Allahabad High Court gave a verdict that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used unfair means in elections of 1971 and termed her election null and void. Later, Gujral was appointed Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union as the Indian envoy to Moscow.
Gujral left the Indian National Congress party in the mid-1980s and joined the Janata Dal. The Dal was a third-party with mainly socialist leanings and regional bases. In the 1989 elections, Gujral was elected from the Jalandhar parliamentary constituency in Punjab. He served as Minister of External Affairs in 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 1996 election, 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 & Broadcasting, Works & Housing and Planning.
The Congress party was supporting the United Front government from outside, but decided to withdraw support, which led to its collapse in April 1997. To avoid mid-term elections, a compromise was reached. The Congress party agreed to support another United Front government under a new leader, provided its concerns—such as not being consulted before taking important decisions and being marginalized—were addressed. The United Front elected Gujral as their new leader and he was sworn in as Prime Minister on 21 April 1997.
Gujral inherited the bitterness between the Congress Party and the United Front from his predecessor Deve Gowda. However he maintained good relations with the Congress Party, which supported his government from outside. Within a few weeks in office, Gujral faced trouble, not from the Congress party but within his own Janata Dal. The Central Bureau of Investigation asked for the permission from the Governor of Bihar A. R. Kidwai to prosecute the state Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in a corruption case related to the purchase of cattle-feed, dubbed the Fodder Scam. Subsequently the demand for the resignation of Yadav was raised both from within and out of the United Front. However, Yadav sternly rejected the demand. Prime Minister Gujral just exhorted Yadav to step down without actually taking any action against his government. When Gujral transferred the CBI director Joginder Singh, who was investigating the case against Yadav, many people considered this as an attempt on the part of Prime Minister to protect Yadav. When Yadav felt that he no longer enjoyed a commanding position in Janata Dal, he left the party and formed his own Rashtriya Janata Dal on 3 July 1997. Out of 45 Janata Dal members of parliament, 17 left the party and supported Yadav. However, the new party continued in the United Front and Gujral’s government was saved from immediate danger.
Another controversial decision of his government was its recommendation of President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh, following unruly scenes in the state assembly on 21 October 1997. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Kalyan Singh sought vote of confidence when the violence and unruly scenes took place in the assembly. However President K.R. Narayanan refused to sign the recommendation and sent it back to the government for reconsideration. The Allahabad High Court also gave a decision against President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh.
In early November 1997, parts of interim report of Jain Commission inquiring into the conspiracy aspects of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case were leaked to the press. Reportedly, the Jain Commission had indicted the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for tacitly supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), responsible for the former Prime Minister’s assassination. The DMK was part of the ruling coalition at the center and had ministers in the Union Cabinet. The Congress first demanded the tabling of the report on the floor of the parliament. The report was tabled on 19 November 1997. When it was confirmed that the Jain Commission had in fact held the DMK responsible for supporting the LTTE, the Congress party demanded that the ministers belonging to the DMK be dropped. There was exchange of letters between Congress president Sitaram Kesri and Prime Minister Gujral. However, Gujral refused to budge. At a public function in Calcutta on 23 November 1997, he gave a hint of what was to follow saying ‘mid-term elections are around the corner’. The Congress Party finally withdrew support from his government on 28 November 1997. Gujral resigned following this withdrawal. As no alternative government could be formed, the only option was a snap election.
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