Monday, July 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Thakur Ram Lal dead
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 7
Thakur Ram Lal, a veteran Congress leader and former Chief Minister, died of a heart attack here last night. He was 73.

He complained of severe chest pain at around 11 p.m. and was immediately rushed to Indira Gandhi Medical College where doctors unsuccessfully tried to revive him. He is survived by four daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. His wife died last year after a protracted illness and his only son passed away some years ago.

A pall of gloom descended in the state, particularly, the upper Shimla region, following the death of Thakur Ram Lal who had two stints as Chief Minister and also remained Governor of Andhra Pradesh. People made a beeline to his residence to pay homage to the leader.

Mrs Vidya Stokes, PCC chief, Mr Virbhadra Singh, Congress Legislative Party Leader, and other senior party leaders were among them. They accompanied the body to Jubbal where it was kept at the local sports stadium to enable the people to pay their last respects to the departed leader.

Dr Suraj Bhan, Governor, placed wreaths on the body at Raj Bhavan while it was being taken to Jubbal. The cremation took place at Hatkoti on the banks of the Pabbar in the evening. Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, who was in Hamirpur, cut short his tour and flew to Hatkoti to attend the funeral.

Mr Ram Lal was given a state funeral. His grandson, Mr Rohit Thakur, lit the pyre. Mr Narender Bragta, Horticulture Minister, and prominent leaders of other political parties were also present.

Born on January 15,1929, at Barthata village in Jubbal, he had his education in Shimla and Jalandhar. A Bachelor of law, he had a brief innings as a practising advocate, before embarking on a political career.

A popular leader, Thakur Ram Lal had the rare distinction of winning all Assembly elections he contested from 1957, when he first made his entry into the House as an Independent, to the 1998 poll. Maintaining a close rapport with the people he had made the Jubbal and Kotkhai constituency an impregnable bastion from where he got elected as many as nine times. In 1990, he even trounced Mr Virbhadra Singh, a sitting Chief Minister, while contesting as a Janata Dal candidate.

He held all important portfolios, including Education, Public Works, Cooperation, Excise and Taxation, Transport and Agriculture. He first became Chief Minister of the state in January, 1977, and then in February, 1980. He was appointed Governor of Andhra Pradesh in August, 1983.

He staged a comeback into active politics by floating the Himachal Kranti Dal, which subsequently became a part of the Janata Dal. The Janata Dal and the BJP combine swept the 1990 poll. Later, he returned to the Congress and won the 1993 and 1998 Assembly elections.

He also played a key role in the party and remained observer for the 1988 Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha poll in Uttar Pradesh. He was also the in charge of Indira Gandhi’s election campaign in Rai Bareilly and Chikmangloor.

Various political parties, employee unions and other organisations have condoled the death. Dr Suraj Bhan said Thakur Ram Lal was a popular leader, a statesman and an able administrator. His contribution to the state would always be remembered. In his death the state had lost one of its illustrious sons.

Mr Dhumal said the void created by the death of Thakur Ram Lal would be difficult to fill. He said the people would remain indebted to him for the services he had rendered in different positions to the state.

Mr Sat Mahajan, a former-PCC chief, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, state Youth Congress President, Mr Anand Sharma, AICC spokesperson, Mr Kewal Pathania, President of the NSUI, Mr Kuldeep Rathore, Congress spokesperson, and other Congress leaders have expressed shock over the sudden demise of Thakur Ram Lal. A condolence meeting has been fixed at Congress Bhavan on July 8.

Mr Jaikrishan Sharma, state BJP chief, Mr Suresh Bhardwaj, MP and Mr Khushi Ram Balnatah, Mr Ganesh Dutt, Mr Randhir Sharma and Mr R.R. Shastri, all BJP leaders, have expressed sorrow over his death.

The state committee of the CPM said in his death the state had lost an able politician. Mr Ganga Singh and Mr Subhash, president and press secretary, respectively, of the state Non-gazetted Services Federation, also condoled the death.

CHANDIGARH: The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, on Sunday expressed profound grief over the demise of Thakur Ram Lal.

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