New Delhi: Veteran Congress leader Arjun Singh, who has had a long and chequered career in Madhya Pradesh as chief minister and as union minister, died here on Friday after a long illness.
Singh (81), who was admitted to AIIMS some days ago with chest pain and neuro problems, complained of breathing problem around 1730 hours. He suffered a heart attack and breathed his last around 1815 hours, sources said.
Incidentally, Singh was today dropped from the party’s highest policy making body Congress Working Committeee and was made a Permanent Invitee.
Singh leaves wife Saroj Kumari, two sons-Ajay Singh, an MLA in Madhya Pradesh and Abhimanyu-and 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 a young Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi reach an accord with Akali Dal leader Sant Harchand Singh Longowal which came to be known Rajiv-Longowal peace accord.
He had also prestigious portfolios at the Centre as Commerce and Communication Minister in the eighties and HRD Minister under P V Narasimha Rao in the nineties.
A leader, who swore by secular ideals, 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.
Singh, who was vice president of the party under Rajiv Gandhi, rejoined Congress after Rao quit as party President and later spearheaded the campaign for the ouster of DMK ministers in the United Front government in 1997 over the Jain Commission report. The UF government under I K Gujral fell in the face of the campaign.