Tribune News Service
Shimla, July 8
Veteran Congress leader and six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh passed away at 3.40 am today at IGMC after a three-month long battle with Covid illness. He was 87.
The state government has declared a three day mourning as a mark of respect to the former chief minister.
Virbhadra's body has been kept at his home in Holly Lodge in the lower Jakhu area of Shimla for the public to pay their last respects. The cremation will take place in Rampur on Saturday. His body will be kept in the state Congress office on Friday before being taken to Rampur in the afternoon.
Virbhadra, a sitting MLA from Arki in Solan district, had earlier recovered from Covid twice successfully. Senior Medical Superintendent, IGMC Dr Janak Raj confirmed the death of Virbhadra. A decision on his cremation taking place in Shimla or his native place Rampur is likely to be taken by the family, later. He hailed from the erstwhile royal family of Bushair.
The passing away of Virbhadra marks the end of an era where he dominated the state political scenario for almost six decades. His death has left a big vacuum in the Congress as no other leader enjoys the kind of mass appeal and popularity that he did.
A six-time chief minister, Virbhadra had won nine assembly and five Lok Sabha elections, a feat few politicians can boast of. He also remained State Congress President in 1977, 1979, 1980 and 2012. He made his entry into politics after being elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1962. He remained Union Minister for Steel and also and a Deputy Minister in Indira Gandhi cabinet.
It was on April 12 after testing positive for Covid that Virbhadra was shifted to Max, Mohali. Though he recovered and was discharged but had to be hospitalized again on April 30 after his oxygen saturation levels fell.
Eversince he remained admitted to IGMC while being treated for heart and kidney ailments. Even as he showed good signs of recovery, it was on June 11 that he again contracted Covid infection. Notwithstanding his age and comorbidities, he fought the dreaded virus successfully for the second time.
However, his condition deteriorated on July 5, as his oxygen saturation level dipped, forcing doctors to put him on a ventilator, leading to his death today morning.
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