V P Singh, champion of backward classes, passes away

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New Delhi, Nov 27 (UNI) Former Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who espoused the cause of backward classes and implemented the Mandal Commission recommendations, died today after a prolonged illness.

He is survived by his wife and his sons, Ajeya and Abhay Singh.

The 77-year-old leader breathed his last at the Apollo hospital here, after battling blood cancer for a decade. He also had to be put through dialysis for his failed kidneys.

His body will be taken from his Delhi residence to Allahabad at 0900 hrs tomorrow, and the cremation will take place at 1300 hrs.

Singh, who was the tenth Prime Minister, was in office from December 2, 1989 to November 10, 1990.

Born on 25 June 1931 into the zamindar family of Daiya, Singh entered local politics in Allahabad during the Nehru era. He soon made a name for himself in the state Congress Party.

He became the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister in 1980, when the Congress came back to power.

As CM, he cracked down hard on the dacoity problem, that particularly haunted the rural districts of the south-west.

Known to be an upright and astute politician, Singh received favourable media reviews when he offered to resign following a self-professed failure to stamp out the problem, and again when he personally oversaw the surrender of some of the most feared dacoits of the area in 1983.

He also touched people's hearts when he first applied himself in becoming the real leader of the people of Manda by donating large tracts of land to the Bhoodan movement.

Called to the Centre following Rajiv Gandhi's massive mandate in the 1984 General elections, he was given the pivotal post of Finance Minister, where he oversaw the gradual relaxation of the license Raj.

Streams of visitors, including former Prime Minister I K Gujral, had been flocking to his Teen Murti Marg residence after his body was brought from the hospital.


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