New Delhi: Veteran Congress leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Bali Ram Bhagat died early this morning at a hospital here. He was 89.
Bhagat breathed his last at 2.30 AM at Apollo hospital where he was receiving treatment for kidney and lever ailments, an aide said.
Rich tributes were paid to Bhagat by leaders across
the political spectrum. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, senior BJP leader L K Advani, RJD Chief Lalu Prasad, Congress leader V Narayanasamy and Bhishma Narain Singh offered floral tributes to the departed leader after his body was taken to Parliament House here.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Bihar Chief Minister
Nitish Kumar, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and state
Governor Shivraj Patil also expressed grief over Bhagat`s
A two-day state mourning has been declared in
Rajasthan where government offices would remain closed
In his condolence message, Vice President Hamid Ansari
said Bhagat was an "eminent Parliamentarian" and earned
respect and admiration of the people for his dedication and
honesty during his long years in public life.
Bhagat was elected Speaker of the fifth Lok Sabha on
January 5, 1976 when the country was under Emergency. He
remained in the post for a year.
Born on 7 October, 1922 in Mahandi Ganj area of Patna
city, he did his graduation from Patna College and later got
a Masters Degree in Economics from Patna University. He joined the Indian National Congress in 1939.
He was the Governor of Himachal Pradesh briefly
in 1993 and Governor of Rajasthan from 1993 to 1998.
In 1963, Bhagat became the Minister of State for
Planning and held that post till January 1966. During
1963-1967, he was the Minister of State in the Ministry of
He served as the Minister in the Ministry of Defence
for a short while in 1967 before he became the Minister of
State for External Affairs the same year.
He was elevated to the Cabinet rank in 1969 as the
Minister of Foreign Trade and Supply. Later, he also served as
the Minister of Steel and Heavy Engineering for a period of
eight months. He was the Minister of External Affairs in Rajiv
Gandhi Government in 1985-86.
Bhagat is survived by his wife Vidhya Bhagat, a son
and a daughter.