In an unusual gesture, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had on Friday turned as one of the pallbearers for veteran Congress leader Satish Sharma, as the latter had passed away at the age of 73 in Goa due to his age-related ailments. The last rituals of the deceased leader were held on Friday in Delhi and Rahul Gandhi had turned as one of the pallbearers and carried the body of Satish Sharma, which had captured how the deceased leader was close to the commanding family of the grand old party.
Satish Sharma was one of the close confidantes of Rajiv Gandhi and a loyalist to the Gandhi family. He had served as a Central minister and in both houses of the parliament and rose to be the significant leader in the Congress party during the rise of Rajiv Gandhi. Satish Sharma had mentored Rajiv's son Rahul Gandhi during the latter's early days in politics. Sharma kept his profile low and stood away from active politics for the past five years due to health ailments.
Satish Sharma had been residing in Goa for the past few years and he breathed his last on Wednesday in Goa at the age of 73. His body was brought to Delhi and the last rites took place on Friday during which Rahul Gandhi became a pallbearer for his political mentor. Congress party took to Twitter and released the pictures of Rahul Gandhi as the pallbearer and the party wrote, "Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party pay their humblest tributes to Late Capt. Satish Sharma ji. His contributions towards the service of our people will always be remembered".
In his tribute note, Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter and said, "I'm very sad to hear of the demise of Captain Satish Sharma. My love and condolences to his family and friends. We will miss him". Sharma had served as a Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas from 1993 to 1996 in the government led by the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Satish Sharma had also served in both the chambers of the Parliament and he represented what are now the strongholds of the Gandhi family in the lower house -Rae Bareli and Amethi.
Before entering politics, Satish Sharma was a successful commercial pilot with Air India - then Indian Airlines and in 1983, at the age of 36, he joined hands with his former airlines' academy batchmate Rajiv Gandhi in his political journey. When Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Satish Sharma remained one of his closest aides. In the shadow of Rajiv Gandhi, Sharma rose to national politics.
Satish Sharma was elected to Lok Sabha from Rajiv Gandhi's constituency Amethi after the latter's death in 1991 and Sharma went on to represent Rae Bareli constituency in Lok Sabha in 1999. After his victory from Amethi, Satish Sharma was inducted into the Union Cabinet led by Narasimha Rao and he served as the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas from 1993 to 1996.
After his stint as the Lok Sabha MP, Sharma had represented the Congress party in the Rajya Sabha from 2004 to 2016 from Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. He was also said to be the brain behind the Indira Gandhi's Rashtriya Uran Akademi- a pilot training institute established in 1985 at Fursatganj Airfield in Amethi. During his tenure in active politics, Sharma was very close to the Gandhi family.
A news agency quoted an Uttar Pradesh Congress leader saying that Satish Sharma knew his primary job is to serve the Gandhi family and to shield them from any criticism. All the elections he won after Rajiv Gandhi's death were also in a way votes he got due to his proximity to the late Prime Minister. According to reports, Sharma was surfaced with a slew of controversies over the sudden whooping of wealth, luxurious lifestyle, and allegations of corruption.
However, Sharma had maintained that his grandfather was a millionaire and his family has wealth and he went on to claim that all these allegations against him were a tactic to weaken Rajiv Gandhi. Despite the allegations, Sharma grew in politics and he had mentored Rahul Gandhi during the latter's early day in politics. After 2016, he wasn't re-nominated to the Rajya Sabha and stood away from active politics.
He was residing in Goa in his final years and on Wednesday, he had breathed his last at the age of 73 due to his age-related ailments. His body was taken to Delhi from Goa and his last rites took place on Friday at the national capital during which Rahul Gandhi turned as a pallbearer for his mentor.
Shri @RahulGandhi and the Congress party pay their humblest tributes to Late Capt. Satish Sharma ji.— Congress (@INCIndia) February 19, 2021
His contributions towards the service of our people will always be remembered. pic.twitter.com/vTdpRe8XgO
I’m very sad to hear of the demise of Captain Satish Sharma.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 18, 2021
My love and condolences to his family & friends.
We will miss him. pic.twitter.com/Ja3FgCoCwp