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Former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar dies

New Delhi, July 8 (PTI): Former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, a socialist who strongly opposed policies of liberalisation and personality politics and headed a minority government at the centre for a brief while, died here today after a prolonged battle with cancer of the blood. He had turned 80 exactly a week ago and is survived by two sons. He died at 8:45 am at the Apollo hospital where he was admitted three months ago.

He was suffering from multiple myloma (blood disease), Dr. Rakesh Chopra, senior consultant (oncology), who was attending on him, told PTI.

Condoling his death, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described him as a truly secular nationalist who was committed to people's welfare and national development.

The Congress and BJP also condoled his death, saying his death was a huge loss. Chandra Shekhar, who was elected to the Lok Sabha for the eighth term in the 2004 elections, served as prime minister for a brief period between November 10, 1990 and March 6, 1991. He had served one term in Rajya Sabha to which he was elected in 1962.

Known for courage of conviction and sticking to principles, the socialist veteran held no office before he split with V P Singh and floated a rebel outfit Janata Dal (socialist) at the height of anti-reservation agitation in 1990 and formed a weak minority government with outside support of Congress headed then by the late Rajiv Gandhi. His government was short-lived when the Congress decided to withdraw support in the wake of controversy over spotting of two intelligence operatives outside 10, Janpath in the capital which the congress felt was an attempt to snoop on Gandhi.

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