George Fernandes death: The politician was jailed during the 1975 Emergency.
New Delhi: George Fernandes, a former Defence Minister of India, has died at 88. He had been unwell and bedridden over the past few years. He was India's defence minister in the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee when India fought the Kargil war in 1999. He was of the most prominent leaders of the socialist movement in the 1970s, George Fernandes was a senior Janata Dal leader before he founded the Samata Party. He was jailed during the 1975 Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government for what was dubbed the "Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy" to blow up government establishments and railway tracks.
Here are 10 interesting facts about George Fernandes:
- Oldest of six children in Mangalorean Catholic family, quit school to become priest.
- Came to be known as "giant killer" when he defeated veteran Congress leader SK Patil in Mumbai during national polls in 1967.
- Organised a crippling 20-day railway strike in 1974 that brought the nation to a halt.
- Went into hiding as a Sikh man, with beard and turban, to avoid arrest during the 1975-77 Emergency.
- Was arrested and jailed for an alleged plot to smuggle dynamites and blow up railway tracks in protest against Emergency.
- Fought 1977 national election from jail and won Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
- Forced Coca Cola, IBM out for not following India's rule for multinationals to dilute their stake.
- Drove the Konkan Railway project connecting Mangalore with Bombay.
- Oversaw 1999 Kargil war.
- Would do the dishes and wash clothes even as a union minister, known for his simplicity.
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