New Delhi: Former Prime Minister V.P. Singh, who formed the first non-Congress coalition government at the Centre dethroning Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress in the 1989 elections, died here today after prolonged illness.
“Battling blood cancer since 1991 and suffering from renal failure, 77-year-old Singh, also known as ‘Raja of Manda´, breathed his last at the Apollo Hospital here in the afternoon,” his close associate Wasim Ahmad said.
“The end came at 2.45 PM,” Apollo Hospital spokesperson said.
Singh leaves his wife Sita Kumari and two sons Ajeya Singh and Abhay Singh
The leader who cobbled a coalition of the Left and BJP to dethrone Rajiv Gandhi in the 1989 elections, played the reservation card a year later that irreversibly changed the course of Indian politics, bringing to the fore the power of backwards and Dalits in electoral politics.
Singh entered politics in Allahabad during the Nehru era and soon made a name for his rectitude.
He earned the title of ‘Mr Clean´ despite occupying positions of power, including the Chief Ministership of Uttar Pradesh which he had resigned in the early 80s when his brother was killed by dacoits, and as Minister at the Centre.
Singh resigned as Defence Minister after he was shifted from Finance in 1987 at the height of his campaign against leading industrialists on the issue of tax evasion and later took on the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by quiting Congress on the issue of Bofors scandal.
Forming Jan Morcha, an amalgam of disgruntled Congressmen, he later became the pivot around which the opposition came together to dethrone Congress to give the first non-Congress coalition at the Centre, supported by the Left parties and the BJP from outside.