Bengaluru, July 27 (IANS) Former Karnataka Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh passed away at a private hospital here on Thursday. He was 80.
He is survived by his wife Prabhavathi, sons Vijay Singh and Ajay Singh and daughter Priyadarshini.
“Dharam Singh died at 11.54 a.m. following a massive heart attack in the intensive care unit,” a spokesperson for M.S. Ramaiah Hospital told IANS.
Dharam Singh, who had been ailing for some time due to age-related problems, was rushed to hospital earlier in the day for treatment after he complained of difficulty in breathing.
The Karnataka government declared a holiday in offices, schools, and colleges on Thursday afternoon and a three-day mourning across the state.
“The government has declared a holiday on Friday in the state’s northern districts of Kalaburgi and Bidar to allow people to pay homage to him,” an official told IANS.
A state funeral with a 21-gun salute will be given to Dharam Singh when his body will be buried on Friday at his farmhouse on the outskirts of Kalaburgi, about 650km from Bengaluru.
“The body was flown in a special aircraft to Bidar and later by a helicopter to Kalaburgi in the evening for the burial on Friday evening.”
Hundreds of people, including politicians, ministers, lawmakers, friends, relatives and officials visited the deceased leader’s house here to pay their respects.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, former Chief Ministers H.D. Kumaraswamy and B.S. Yeddyurappa and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda were among the mourners.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who was on official tour in Haveri district, returned to the city and rushed to the deceased leader’s house to mourn his death. He also conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family after laying a wreath on the body.
A veteran Congress leader for over six decades, Dharam Singh was the Chief Minister of the first coalition government in the southern state from May 28, 2004, to February 3, 2006, with Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
Dharam Singh was an MP from Bidar from 2009-2014 and a record seven-time legislator from Jewargi in the state’s northern district of Kalaburgi from 1978-2008.
Born on December 25, 1936, Dharam Singh, a Rajput, was the ruling party’s state unit President from 1997-1999.
He was also a Cabinet Minister in five Congress governments and held key portfolios, including Excise, Home, and Revenue for over two decades.
His elder son Vijay is a member of the state legislative council while younger son Ajay is a lawmaker from his home constituency Jewargi near Kalaburgi.
A seasoned politician, Singh was known for his gentle demeanour.
“Though he headed a coalition government for 20 months, he became the most popular Chief Minister. He gave me full freedom to work and showered love on me, which I can never forget” Siddaramaiah said in a statement here.
Known as Ajatashatru — a man without enemy — Singh had a good rapport with all politicians, including opposition leaders, when in and out of office.
“His death is a great loss to the state and the party. He was a good administrator and strengthened the party in his long career of five decades,” said Siddaramaiah, who was his deputy in the coalition government.