Former President Pranab Mukherjee today expressed grief at the death of former defence minister George Fernandes. In a letter to Mr Fernandes' wife, Mr Mukherjee described him as a "committed socialist".
"I extend my heartfelt condolences on the passing away of Shri George Fernandes," Mr Mukherjee's letter read.
"Shri Fernandes was a long standing friend from the Opposition and colleague in the Parliament. A committed socialist, activist for the cause of the deprived and an inspiring leader, he witnessed and contributed to different phases of our Nation's building," he added.
He further said that he cherished his association with Mr Fernandes.
Pranab Mukherjee had taken the reins of the defence ministry from Mr Fernandes, when his former party, the Congress, formed the government at the centre in 2004.
George Fernandes died today at 88. He had been unwell and bedridden over the past few years.
George Fernandes served as defence minister between 1998 and 2004.
One 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.
Apart from the defence ministry during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government, Mr Fernandes held several ministerial portfolios including communications, industry and railways.
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