Cong leader Arjun Singh dead

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 6 2011, 04:17am hrs
Hours after he was dropped from the Congress Working Committee, veteran party leader Arjun Singh, who had a long and chequered career as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and as Union Minister, died here on Friday. He was 81.

Admitted to AIIMS some days ago with chest pain and neuro problems, Singh complained of breathlessness around 5.30 pm. He suffered a heart attack and passed away at 6.15 pm, sources said. Earlier in the day, Singh was dropped from the CWC, the partys highest policy making body, and made a permanent invitee.

Singh leaves behind wife Saroj Kumari, two sonsAjay Singh, an MLA in Madhya Pradesh, and Abhimanyuand daughter Veena.

A loyalist of the Gandhi family and considered a shrewd strategist, Singh was Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh between 1980 and 1985 and was made Governor of Punjab just a day after he took oath as chief minister for the second time in the state. He became governor at the height of militancy and helped Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi reach an accord with Akali Dal leader Sant Harchand Singh Longowal which came to be known the Rajiv-Longowal peace accord. He also geld important portfolios at the Centre as Commerce and Communication Minister in the eighties and HRD minister under PV Narasimha Rao in the nineties.

A leader who swore by secular ideals, Singh turned against Rao in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. Though he did not not resign from his government immediately, he later parted ways with Rao and formed a rebel Congress under the leadership of N D Tiwari in 1994.