Former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral, who engineered a thaw in the icy relationship with arch rival Pakistan during his time in government, died Friday aged 92, the government announced.
“I am deeply grieved to inform the house about the demise of Inder Kumar Gujral, the former prime minister of India. He passed away at 3:31pm,” home minister Sushilkumar Shinde told Lok Sabha.
Gujral, who served as prime minister in a coalition government from April 1997 to March 1998, was admitted to Gurgaon’s Medanta Medicity hospital 11 days ago with a lung infection.
The former diplomat was born on December 4, 1919 in the city of Jhelum, Punjab (now part of Pakistan) into a family of Congress party workers.
Gujral joined the ruling Congress party after India won independence and rose through the ranks to become minister of information and broadcasting under prime minister Indira Gandhi from 1969-71 and 1972-75.
The soft-spoken Gujral ran foul of the Congress leadership when he refused to censor radio bulletins during the state of emergency imposed by Gandhi in 1975.
He then spent five years working as India’s ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1976 to 1980.
Gujral left the Congress party in the 1980s and joined the socialist Janata Dal, serving twice as India’s foreign minister before being appointed prime minister in a coalition government in 1997.
He resigned from the post in 1998 after the Congress part withdrew its support for the government, forcing mid-term elections. He effectively retired from politics the following year.