SHIMLA: Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister and senior Congress leader Virbhadra Singh died here in the wee hours of Thursday due to post COVID-19 complications. He was 87.
The veteran, popularly called 'Raja Sahib' belonged to the erstwhile Bushair royal family and was the sitting MLA from Arki in Solan district of the hill state. After three months of fighting with COVID-19, he passed away at 3.40 AM at Shimla's Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) hospital.
After testing positive for the virus on April 12, he was shifted from Shimla to Max Hospital at Mohali
in Punjab. He recovered after a few days, and was discharged but had to be hospitalized again on April 30 after his oxygen saturation levels fell. In July, his condition deteriorated and was put on ventilator support. He had earlier twice recovered from Covid successfully.
Confirming his death, Senior Medical Superintendent, IGMC Dr Janak Raj said that doctors made all efforts to revive him.
On June 23 he celebrated his 87th birthday in a low key affair as he was in the hospital.
Singh first became a Lok Sabha MP he was 28 years. The nine-time MLA and five-time MP, Singh served as Himachal Pradesh's chief minister for six times.
The veteran Congress leader remained chief minister of the state for six times- from April 8, 1983 to March 5, 1990, December 3, 1993 to March 23, 1998 and from March 6, 2003 to December 29, 2007 and for the sixth time from December 25, 2012 to December 26, 2017.
Singh also remained 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 Arki Assembly Constituency in Solan district.
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 third Lok Sabha in 1962; re-elected to 4th Lok Sabha in 1967 from Mahasu Constituency, 5th Lok Sabha in 1971, 7th Lok Sabha in 1980 and 15th Lok Sabha (5th term) in May 2009 from Mandi Lok- Sabha Constituency.
Virbhadra was born on June 23, 1934, in the royal family of the erstwhile princely state of Rampur to late Raja Sir Padam Singh. The veteran leader was BA (Hons.), MA; educated at Bishop Cotton School, Shimla and St.Stephen's College, Delhi.
He is survived by his wife Pratibha Singh a two-time MP from Mandi, son Vikramaditya Singh an MLA from Shimla (Rural) and two daughters.
(With PTI inputs)