Former Union Minister Jaswant Singh, a close associate of ex-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, passed away on Sunday following a long spell of illness. He was 82.
"It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Hon'ble Major Jaswant Singh (Retd), former Cabinet Minister of Government of India at 0655 hours on 27 September 2020. He was admitted on 25 Jun 2020 and being treated for Sepsis with Multiorgan Dysfunction Syndrome and effects of Severe Head Injury old (Optd) had a Cardiac arrest this morning," the hospital said in a statement. Despite the best efforts of the attending team of specialists to resuscitate him, he could not be revived and passed away, it added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Singh served India diligently and will be remembered for his unique perspective on matters of politics and society. PM Modi also spoke to Singh's son Manvendra to convey his condolences. "Jaswant Singh Ji served our nation diligently, first as a soldier and later during his long association with politics. During Atal Ji’s Government, he handled crucial portfolios and left a strong mark in the worlds of finance, defence and external affairs. Saddened by his demise," Modi tweeted.
Jaswant Singh was the Finance Minister in the 1996 Vajpayee government, and the Minister of External Affairs two years later. Singh leaves behind an impressive legacy, having been a nine-time (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) parliamentarian and held some of the biggest Ministry portfolios.
Singh was termed Vajpayee's Hanuman and there was deep friendship between the duo. Singh's son Manvendra once wrote in The Print, "Atalji and my father maintained an extraordinary bond that defied all conventions of political friendships. In fact, the only thing common to both was the deep attachment to words—verse for one, and prose, the other. Their family backgrounds and upbringings couldn’t have been more different, and yet they bonded very deeply. It wasn’t for nothing that my father was labelled Atalji’s Hanuman, a sobriquet neither sought to deny. At the root of the closeness was transparency, indeed a rarity in public life."
In 2009 when BJP expelled Jaswant Singh for praising Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah in his book, the only person Singh called was Atal Bihari Vajpayee. "Despite his ailing condition, Mr Vajpayee shared his anguish and pain of expulsion. The mood was dreary, and Mr Vajpayee said words to my father that cannot be recounted in public," Manvendra wrote.
"Father would often remark that Indian politics has never seen a friendship like that between Mr Vajpayee and LK Advani. In terms of longevity, trust and transparency, Indian politics has indeed not witnessed a friendship like these two giants. Unlike the transactional nature of current political friendships, this was born out of an ideological commitment and a personal equation that lasted more than six decades of trials, tribulations and triumphs," he added.