Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister and veteran Congress leader Virbhadra Singh passed away after prolonged illness on Thursday in Shimla. He was 87 years old.
The six-time Chief Minister, who had twice recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months and remained under observation at the Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC), was placed on ventilator support after he suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this week. Dr. Janak Raj, Senior Medical Superintendent, IGMC, said Mr. Singh passed away following multi-organ failure in the early hours of Thursday.
The State government declared three days mourning from July 8 to July 10 as a mark of respect to Mr. Singh. He will be cremated at Rampur, his native place, on July 10.
Mr. Singh had tested positive for COVID-19 first in April and was admitted to a private hospital in Punjab’s Mohali, from where he was discharged after a few days. Following a drop in his oxygen level on April 30, he was admitted to the IGMC, where he had been since, undergoing treatment for heart and kidney problems. Infected again on June 11, he received treatment for COVID-19 and recovered recovered successfully, but his condition worsened on July 5.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur laid a wreath on the mortal remains of the former CM. He said Mr. Singh’s contributions to the development of the State were unprecedented. “Virbhadra Singh devoted his entire life to the upliftment of every section of the society, with a special focus on weaker and vulnerable sections. The void created by Virbhadra Singh’s death would be difficult to be filled for the time to come,” Mr. Thakur said.
Mr. Singh was a nine-time MLA was elected to the State Legislative Assembly first time in October 1983. He remained Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh from April 8, 1983 to March 5, 1990; December 3, 1993 to March 23, 1998; from March 6, 2003 to December 29, 2007; and from December 25, 2012 to December 26, 2017. He was at present MLA from the Arki Assembly constituency in Solan district.
Mr. Singh was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1962 and in all, he was a five-time MP. He served as Minister of State for Industries in 1982-1983; Union Minister of Steel from 2009-2011; and Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises from 2011-2012. He was also the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 2012.