I.K. Gujral passes away after brief illness

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.

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 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.

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