A six-time chief minister of the state, Singh held a special place in the hearts of the people of the state.
Last month Virbhadra Singh’s family cut a cake to celebrate his 87th birthday at the family’s ancestral home, Holly Lodge, but the veteran Congress leader could not be a part of the gathering as he was undergoing treatment for post-Covid complications at a hospital here. Singh breathed his last at the Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) at 3.40 am on Thursday after prolonged illness. He had a heart attack on Monday. He was put on ventilator support on Wednesday after he had trouble breathing. Singh had tested positive for COVID-19 on June 11 for the second time in two months.
A six-time chief minister of the state, Singh held a special place in the hearts of the people of the state. He was known to take a stand contrary to that of his party on some occasions. Like in the case of the Ram Temple when he openly supported its construction at the same spot in Ayodhya where the Babri mosque stood. In April 2019, right before the last Lok Sabha elections, Singh spoke to PTI about this during an interview at his residence. “Land for Ram Temple can be given even in Himachal Pradesh, but it should be built on the same spot in Ayodhya,” he had said. Virbhadra Singh was born on June 23, 1934 in Sarahan to late Raja Sir Padam Singh of Bushahr state. He was educated at Bishop Cotton School in Shimla and St. Stephen’s College in Delhi. Singh was just 28 when he became an MP for the first time. Twenty years later, he became the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh in 1983 at the age of 48. He held the office of the chief minister from April 1983 to March 1990, December 1993 to March 1998, March 2003 to December 2007 and then from December 2012 to December 2017.
Singh’s birthday used to be celebrated with pomp and show in Holly Lodge every year by his supporters, but his last birthday about a fortnight ago was a low-key affair. His wife Pratibha Singh and their son Vikramaditya Singh celebrated the day at their ancestral residence in a simple affair.
A nine-time MLA and five-time MP, Virbhadra Singh remained active in state and central politics throughout his life. He was representing the Arki Assembly Constituency in Solan district since December 2017. Singh was the leader of Opposition from March 1998 to March 2003.
The veteran Congress leader also served as union deputy minister, Tourism and Civil Aviation, minister of state for industries, Union minister of steel and Union minister of micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME). He was re-elected to the 13th Vidhan Sabha in December 2017 from the Arki Assembly Constituency. Earlier, he was elected to the state legislative assembly in October 1983 (by-election); re-elected in 1985 from Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly constituency, in 1990, 1993, 1998, 2003 & 2007 from Rohru assembly constituency and in 2012 from Shimla rural assembly constituency.
He was also elected to the third Lok Sabha in 1962; re-elected to the fourth Lok Sabha in 1967 from Mahasu Constituency, fifth Lok Sabha in 1971, seventh Lok Sabha in 1980 and the 15th Lok Sabha (5th term) in May 2009 from the Mandi parliamentary constituency. Singh served as Himachal Pradesh Congress president in 1977, 1979, 1980 and from 26th August, 2012 to December 2012.