Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader passes away at 87: Leaders pay tribute!

Former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh and senior Congress leader Virbhadra Singh has passed away in the wee hours of Thursday in Shimla at the age of 87. He was battling a prolonged illness and was hospitalized for the past few weeks. He had suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday post which his health began deteriorating. He was spelt to be in a critical condition and was put under ventilator support. 

The veteran leader was getting treated at Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla and was under the supervision of the doctors of the cardiology department on Wednesday after he had developed breathing difficulties. Amid efforts to save him, he had breathed his last in the wee hours of Thursday. According to PTI, Dr Janak Raj, the senior medical superintendent of the hospital has confirmed the demise of Virbhadra Singh. 

Virbhadra Singh had tested positive for the COVID-19 viral infection on June 11 for the second time in two months. He contracted the pandemic for the first time on April 12 and was admitted to the hospital in Chandigarh. He got discharged and returned home on April 30 after recovering from the first time infection. Hours after he returned home, he had developed complications and complained of cardiac and breathing problems. 

He was then rushed to the Indira Gandhi Medical College Hospital in Shimla and he was hospitalized since then. During his hospitalization, he had tested positive for the pandemic for the second time which put his health under setback. Though he recovered from the viral disease, he had been battling the complications and prolonged illness, and eventually, he had failed in battle by taking the last breath. 

Virbhadra Singh has served as the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh six times. He had served in the state legislative assembly nine times and he also has served as the Member of Parliament five times. The senior Congress leader had also served as Union Minister of State for Tourism, Civil Aviation, and minister of state for Industries. He had served as the Union Minister for Steel, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises. 

Born on June 23, 1934, at Sarahan, Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh has earned BA (Hons) and MA degrees. He also had served as Himachal Pradesh Congress president in 1977, 1979, 1980, and from August 26, 2012, to December 2012. Virbhadra Singh's wife Pratibha Singh and their son Vikramaditya Singh are also politicians. Pratibha is a former MP while Vikramaditya Singh is MLA from Shimla rural. After learning about the demise of Virbhadra, several national leaders are paying tribute to the departed soul. 

The state of Himachal Pradesh had declared three-day mourning after Virbhadra's death. President Ram Nath Kovind wrote, "Sad to know that Shri Virbhadra Singh is no more. His political career spanning six decades in his roles as chief minister and parliamentarian was marked by his commitment to serve the people of Himachal Pradesh. Condolences to family & followers." 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter and wrote, "Shri Virbhadra Singh Ji had a long political career, with rich administrative and legislative experience. He played a pivotal role in Himachal Pradesh and served the people of the state. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti." Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, "Shri Virbhadra Singh ji was a stalwart in the true sense. His commitment to serving the people and to the Congress party remained exemplary till the very end. My condolences to his family and friends. We will miss him."