V.P. Singh's funeral procession begins

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Allahabad, Nov 29 : Former Prime Minister V. P. Singh's funeral procession has begun from his ancestral house Aish Mahal in Allahabad. He will be cremated at the Sangam today.

The former Prime Minister passed away on Thursday afternoon after a prolonged illness.

A special aircraft flew Singh's body here on Friday afternoon.

His eldest son Ajeya Singh will perform the last rites.

Prominent leaders expected to attend Singh's funeral include West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and actor-turned MP Raj Babbar.

The Central Government has announced a seven-day state mourning from Friday as a mark of respect to him.

Born on June 25, 1931, Singh was the tenth Prime Minister of the country from December 2, 1989 to November 10, 1990.

Singh gained wide publicity and notoriety for his decision to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission which suggested that a fixed quota of all jobs in the public sector be reserved for members of the Other Backward Classes (OBC). This controversial decision led to widespread protests by youth in urban areas across north India.

Singh entered local politics in Allahabad during the Nehru era and soon made a name for himself in the state Congress Party for his unfailing rectitude, a reputation that he would carry along with him throughout his career.

He was a Member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly (MLA) from 1969-71.

In 1980, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed him as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh after the Congress returned to power following the collapse of the Janata Party Government.

As the Chief Minister, Singh cracked down hard on dacoity, or banditry, a problem that was particularly severe in the rural districts of south-western Uttar Pradesh. He received national publicity 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.

Singh floated an opposition party named the Jan Morcha together with associates Arun Nehru and Arif Mohammad Khan.

He was re-elected to Lok Sabha in a tightly contested by-election from Allahabad, defeating Anil Shastri.

On October 11, 1988, the birthday of the original Janata coalition's spiritual leader Jayaprakash Narayan, the Janata Dal was formed by merger of Jan Morcha, Janata Party, Lok Dal and Congress (S), in order to bring together all the centrist parties opposed to the Rajiv Gandhi government. Singh was elected the President of the Janata Dal.

A federation of the Janata Dal with various regional parties including the MK, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), and AGP, came into being, called the National Front (India), with V. P. Singh as convener and N. T. Rama Rao as President.

V.P. Singh in personal life cherished painting, photography and poetry.

Brought up as a single child guarded by two gunmen, with guardians and tutors to educate him, it was evident that V. P. Singh was to develop an affinity to the written word and the visual forms of things around him. This helped to develop both the poet and the artist in him

Singh began his artistic career by becoming an accomplished photographer. His process of development began as a 'camera shikari'. Starting with a box camera, he shot images of flowers, animals, people and landscapes. Later he picked up more sophisticated cameras and even made home movies.

In 1957, Singh took part in the Bhoodan-Aandolan and donated his farmhouse of Pasana Village (Allahabad).

ANI

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