New Delhi: Former Union minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Ajit Singh passed away at a Gurgaon hospital on Thursday morning battling COVID-19, his family said. He was 82.
Singh, the son of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, was diagnosed positive for COVID-19 on April 20, the family said in a statement.
"Chaudhary Ajit Singh ji was diagnosed as COVID+ on the 20th April. He battled his condition till the very end and breathed his last today morning, the 6th of May, 2021," his son Jayant Chowdhury tweeted.
"Throughout his life journey, Chaudhary Sahib was loved and respected by many. He, in turn cherished this bond with all of you and gave his best consideration and efforts for your welfare," he said.
"As our Nation confronts the horrific pandemic, it is our humble request to all those who wish to pay their respects, to please stay at home as far as possible. We must observe all safety protocols to keep ourselves and everyone around us healthy and safe. This would be the best way to honour Chaudhary Sahib as well as all those COVID warriors who are working night and day to protect us," he said.
"We pray for solace for all those families that have been ravaged by this brutal disease," the message posted by Jayant on behalf of the family said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav and others have condoled the death of the leader.
Expressing grief at the death of the RLD leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was always dedicated to the welfare of farmers.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said Singh’s struggle for the cause of farmers will always be remembered.
Congress general secretary in-charge Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, said, "Got the sad news of the demise of popular leader, former Union minister and farmer-friendly leader Chaudhary Ajit Singh ji. Chaudhary Sahab's demise is an irreparable loss for society and politics."
The Congress, on its official Twitter handle, condoled Singh's demise and said his struggle for the cause of farmers will always be remembered.
Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said: "The voice of the farmers has suffered a huge loss in the country today," he said.
CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali tweeted: “Very sad news. Chowdhry Ajit Singh succumbed to Covid. This is a time when his presence was much needed.”
Sources said Singh was admitted to a private hospital in Gurgaon on the evening of April 20 soon after he was diagnosed with coronavirus where he took his last breath on Thursday due to “multiple organ failure”.
His granddaughter was also detected with the infection at the same time but she has recovered now, the sources said. In view of the ongoing pandemic, the last rites would be held in Delhi itself in compliance with all COVID-19 protocols, which, among others, restricts the number of people gathering for a funeral, they added.
Born on February 12, 1939, Singh studied at Lucknow University, IIT Kharagpur and the Illinois Institute of Technology in the US's Chicago. He was a computer scientist by profession and worked for 15 years in the US.
Singh took his first dive into active politics in the 1980s and entered Parliament through Rajya Sabha in 1986.
He was a six-time parliamentarian and served as a union minister on multiple occasions, the first being Minister for Industry in 1989 in the National Front government and the last being Civil Aviation Minister from 2011 in the Congress-led United Progressive Aliance government.
Singh was once considered among the tallest leaders in North India with his regional RLD party holding influence in Western Uttar Pradesh. His dominance as a Jat leader continued in the region to this date even as his party suffered a setback in the 2017 state elections and 2019 general polls.