Press Trust of india

George Fernandes passes away after prolonged illness

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New Delhi:  Former defence minister George Fernandes passed away Tuesday following a prolonged illness, family sources said.

He was 88.

Fernandes was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and recently, he contracted swine flu, they said.

The socialist leader was India's defence minister in the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and he was the industry minister under the Jan Sangh government, which defeated Indira Gandhi in 1977.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise, saying he was frank and fearless, and never deviated from his ideology.

"A visionary railway minister and a great defence minister who made India safe and strong. During his long years in public life, George Sahab never deviated from his political ideology. He resisted the Emergency tooth and nail. His simplicity and humility were noteworthy," the PM said.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi expressed his condolences to Fernandes' family and friends.

"I'm sorry to hear about the passing away of former Parliamentarian & Union Minister, George Fernandes Ji," he said in a Facebook post.

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