Former home minister Buta Singh passes away

NEW DELHI, 2 Jan: Former union home minister Buta Singh, who remained in public service for a long time and served under four prime ministers, died at the AIIMS here on Saturday morning. He was 86.

The senior Congress leader was in a coma since October last year, when he was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) after he suffered a brain hemorrhage.

His family said Singh died around 7:10 am. He will be cremated at the Lodhi Road crematorium here later in the day.

Singh was an eight-time former MP and also served as the governor of Bihar.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh condoled his demise.

“In the passing of Shri Buta Singh, the country has lost one of the longest serving parliamentarians with rich administrative experience. He championed the cause of the oppressed and marginalized. Condolences to his family and supporters,” Kovind said in a tweet.

“Saddened to learn about the passing away of Shri Buta Singh Ji. He was an able administrator & parliamentarian. My heartfelt condolences to bereaved family members. Om Shanti!” Naidu wrote on Twitter.

“Shri Buta Singh Ji was an experienced administrator and effective voice for the welfare of the poor as well as downtrodden. Saddened by his passing away. My condolences to his family and supporters,” the prime minister wrote on the microblogging website.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Shri Buta Singh ji dedicated his life serving poor and downtrodden. He served the nation in several capacities. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said Singh devoted all his life in the service of the country.

“In the demise of Sardar Buta Singh Ji, the country has lost a true public servant and a loyal leader. He devoted his entire life in the service of the country and the wellbeing of people, for which he will always be remembered. My condolences to his family members during this difficult time,” the former Congress chief said in a tweet in Hindi.

Born in Punjab’s Jalandhar district on 21 March, 1934, Singh was an eight-time former Lok Sabha member. He represented the Jalore constituency in Rajasthan and was first elected to the lower house of Parliament in 1962.

Singh was earlier associated with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), but later joined the Congress in the early 1960s.

A prominent Dalit leader of the grand old party, he was the convenor of the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) Harijan cell in 1973-74, after which he became the AICC general secretary in 1978.

Singh became the union deputy railways minister in 1974 and the union deputy commerce minister in 1976. In 1980, he became the union minister of state for shipping and transport, and was also given the portfolio of sports (independent charge) in 1982.

In 1983, then prime minister Indira Gandhi elevated him as the cabinet minister for parliamentary affairs, sports and works and housing. In 1984, he was made the union minister for agriculture and rural development and in 1986, the union home minister in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet.

Under PV Narasimha Rao, Singh was the union minister of civil supplies, consumer affairs and public distribution from 1995 to 1996.

He was appointed the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes by Manmohan Singh in 2007. He held that post till 2010.

Singh is survived by a daughter and two sons. (PTI)