| Hari Kishore Singh |
Many likened his death to Bihar losing a “rare gem” in its political firmament.
The mortal remains of Hari Kishore Singh, deputy chairman of the state planning board and former ambassador to Syria, were brought to the JD(U) office here on Thursday.
The “rare gem” description would not be an exaggeration for a figure as towering as Singh.
Unlike neighbouring Bengal, Bihar has had few Oxford-educated leaders. Singh stood out among his peers in the state like a giant. He had done his doctorate from Oxford after studying at the Banaras Hindu University.
Singh died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences . New Delhi, on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 79.
Singh is survived by his wife and two sons. Officials said he would be cremated with full state honours at his native village, Chamanpur, in Sheohar district, on Friday.
A disciple of socialist icon Acharya Narendra Deo, Hari Kishore was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time from Pupri seat (now Sheohar) in 1971 on a Congress ticket. He was known for his proximity to former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar.
Revolting against Indira Gandhi’s leadership, Singh had left the Congress along with Chandra Shekhar and Ashok Mehta and joined the Janata Party under the stewardship of Jayaprakash Narayan who led the call for “total revolution” after then Prime Minister Indira imposed the Emergency in 1975.
Singh was elected from the Sheohar Lok Sabha seat twice — in 1989 and in 1991 — and became minister of state for external affairs in the V.P. Singh-led ministry. He was also ambassador to Syria when I.K. Gujral became Prime Minister in 1997.
Singh has also authored a book, Desh Videsh, dealing with the politics and society of Gulf countries and also the approach India should adopt towards them.
Soft-spoken and a gentleman to the core, Hari Kishore had few enemies in the political firmament, particularly among the socialist school of leaders.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan have deeply mourned Singh’s death.
While Nitish described Singh’s death as an “irreparable loss to the political world”, Lalu said the void created by Singh’s demise was hard to fill. “Despite hailing from a rich farmers’ family and attaining higher education, Singh stood for the cause of the deprived sections of society throughout his life,” Paswan said.