Aizawl: Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga on Wednesday expressed deep condolence over the demise of veteran leader and former defence minister George Fernandes, who died on Tuesday morning following prolonged illness.
In his condolence message to the bereaved families, Zoramthanga said he was shocked to learn the sudden demise of the veteran leader, who helped him a lot during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Mizoram.
He hailed Fernandes as "a great man and a rare personality who had done a lot of good things for the people of Mizoram during his tenure as the defence minister."
“Personally I really missed him. He was a great man and a very rare personality. He helps me a lot when I was the chief minister of Mizoram,” Zoramthanga said.
The chief minister said that he used to be reminded of the veteran leader’s contribution to Mizoram whenever he passes along the Aizawl- Durtlang road, which was constructed with the help of the departed leader. “He (Fernandes) was a person of very rare calibre that India and the world missed a lot,” he said.
George Fernandes, long-time socialist and a trade unionist, who fought the Congress all his life, died on Tuesday at the age of 88 after prolonged illness. He was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and has been bed-ridden for more than eight years. He had recently contracted swine flu.
Fernandes rose to political prominence when he led the Bombay Taxi Unions Association and defeated SK Patil, a Congress heavyweight in the 1967 general election. He served as railways minister in the VP Singh government from 1989 to 1990. He formed Samata Party in 1994, which later allied with the BJP.
Fernandes had served as defence minister in the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee for tow terms, between 1998 and 2004.