Former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, better known as IK Gujral, who had championed the cause of the country's strong relations with neighbouring countries, died yesterday after a brief illness.
Gujral, 92, breathed his last at 3:27pm at a private hospital in Gurgaon 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 on ventilator support, had been unwell for sometime. He was on dialysis for over a year and suffered a serious chest infection few days ago.
He will be cremated in Delhi today.
Gujral, who migrated from Pakistan after the partition of Indian subcontinent, rose to become the prime minister with a big slice of luck in late 1990s after he came up through the ranks -- starting as vice-president in New Delhi Municipal Corporation in '50s to later become a federal minister and then India's ambassador to the USSR.
He propounded the â€œGujral Doctrineâ€ of five principles for maintaining India's good relations with immediate neighbours.
Gujral quit Congress to join Janata Dal in the late '80s.
He became the foreign minister in VP Singh-led National Front government in 1989. As the external affairs minister, he had handled the fallout of the Kuwait crisis following Iraqi invasion of that country that displaced thousands of Indians.
Gujral had a second stint as foreign 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 sharp differences developed among the UF leaders including Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh and others as to who will become the prime minister.
But Gujral government survived only for a few months as Congress again became restive in the wake of Jain Commission report on Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.
A suave and sobre politician, Gujral belonged to that genre of intellectuals who made a mark in the country's foreign policy.
Born on December 4, 1919 in Jhelum town now in Pakistan, Gujral belonged to a family of freedom fighters and had actively participated in India's freedom struggle at a young age. He had been jailed in 1942 during the Quit India Movement.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid rich tributes to Gujral describing him as a "scholar-statesman" and said the loss from his death would be felt not only in India but across the world.
BSS adds: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed deep shock at the death of Gujral. In a condolence message, she recalled Gujral's contribution to strengthening bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India.
Awami League presidium member Kazi Zafarullah will represent the prime minister and the party at the funeral in New Delhi, said PM's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad.