Rashtriya Lok Dal chief and former Union minister Chaudhary Ajit Singh died of the coronavirus on Thursday, his son and party leader Jayant Chaudhary said. He was 82.
Jayant Chaudhary said that his father tested positive for the infection on April 20 and died at 6 am on Thursday. “This is an extremely saddening time,” he tweeted. “Chaudhary Sahab [Ajit Singh] fought till the last moment.”
Singh was undergoing treatment at a Gurugram hospital for the coronavirus, reported India Today.
Singh, the son of former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, was a seven-time MLA from the Baghpat constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Ajit Singh was first elected to Rajya Sabha in 1986.
He was elected to Lok Sabha from Baghpat in 1989. In the same year, Singh was inducted as the Union minister of industry in the VP Singh government. He later joined the PV Narasimha Rao government as the food minister but resigned from the Congress in 1996.
Singh then formed the Rashtriya Lok Dal and joined the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government as the agriculture minister in 2001. He remained a part of the National Democratic Alliance government till May 2003.
In 2011, he joined the United Progressive Alliance and became the Union minister of civil aviation.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief noting that Singh always raised his voice in favour of farmers and dedicated himself to their cause.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and other politicians also offered condolences.