NEW DELHI: BJP president Amit Shah Tuesday said the death of George Fernandes was an "irreparable loss" to Indian politics and asserted that he stood steadfastly to protect the country's democratic values.
Fernandes, a lifelong socialist despite his political adventurism that included Cabinet posts in two ideological opposite governments where he ousted Coca-Cola in 1977 and oversaw the Kargil war in 1999, died Tuesday at his home after prolonged illness. He was 88
Shah was among a host of leaders who visited the bereaved family at their residence in New Delhi's upscale Panchsheel Park to pay their last respects.
"The most abiding memories of Fernandes Ji are those of his fierce opposition to the Emergency in 1975. He stood steadfastly to protect India's democratic values. His demise is an irreparable loss for Indian politics. He also fought for democratic values, whether he was in government or opposition," Shah told reporters after visiting his house.
"Labourers from railways to airport authorities, all of them had a hope that 'George Ji will raise their voice in Parliament'," Shah said.
Earlier, in a series of tweets, Shah said Fernandes' stint in public offices saw him make some defining changes, particularly in the railways. Terming the passing away of Fernandes an end of an era, Shah said may god give his family and followers the strength to endure this loss.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari too on Tuesday said former defence minister George Fernandes was a staunch patriot and his icon. In his condolence message, Gadkari said, "George Fernandes dedicated his life to the nation and democracy." A staunch patriot, Fernandes fought for providing justice to workers, he said.
"We have lost a big leader. I considered him my icon. I am deeply saddened by his passing away," Gadkari said