Former Defence Minister George Fernandes died today at the age of 88 in New Delhi. He had been suffering from swine flu for the last few days. A few milestones from his illustrious career timeline is listed below.
1. George Fernandes was born to John Fernandes and Alice Fernandes in Mangalore on June 3, 1930.
2. George Fernandes was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1967.
3. He was elected to the Lok Sabha nine times, and served as a Union minister several times. He was still in prison when he won in Muzaffarpur in the 1977 general election.
4. He held diverse portfolios like railways, industry and defence.
5. He served as the defence minister in 1998-99 and then between 1999 and 2001
6. Arrested during the Emergency, George Fernandes was the industries minister in the first non-Congress government that came to power after the Janata Party defeated Indira Gandhi — whom Fernandes once called a “congenital liar”.
7. During the 1975 Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government, he was arrested for what was dubbed the “Baroda Dynamite Conspiracy” to blow up government establishments and railway tracks. George Fernandes and others were charged with smuggling dynamite in an alleged plot to blow up railway tracks and government buildings in the Baroda Dynamite Case.
8. George Fernandes became a hero of the Emergency.
9. He contested the 1977 election from jail and won the Muzaffarpur constituency in Bihar by a landslide.
10. He was made minister when the Janata Party came to power in 1977 with Morarji Desai as Prime Minister. One of his prominent acts at the time was to force the exit of Coca Cola and IBM, which had refused to dilute their stake in their Indian associates. Coke left India and returned only two decades later.
11. George Fernandes has three books to his credit — What Ails the Socialists, Railway Strike of 1974 and George Fernandes Speaks.