|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
'Old fox' Bhagat passes away
October 29, 2005 22:11 IST
Former Union Minister H K L Bhagat, who was among those indicted by the Nanavati Commission in the anti-Sikh riots, died in a city hospital on Saturday after prolonged illness.
Eighty four-year-old Bhagat was a close associate of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, who called the shots in the faction-ridden Delhi Congress in the late 70's and 80's, had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and various ailments for quite some time and was in hospital for one-and-a-half years.
In coma for some time till the end came, he is survived by wife and three children.
Bhagat's downfall started over a decade back when the Bharatiya Janata Party trounced the Congress in the capital in the assembly polls, as the veteran politician got embroiled in allegations of inciting mobs in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Despite his acquittal in three cases relating to the 1984 riots, he could never get over the stigma following serious allegations that he had led mobs in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984.
The Nanavati Commission that probed the riots, made public recently, indicted prominent Congress leaders, including Bhagat, for their alleged role in instigating the anti-Sikh violence and the government had a few days ago referred to CBI his case also for reinvestigation.
Born in Montgomery in Pakistan on April four, 1921, the Congress leader migrated to Delhi in 1947 and began taking active interest in the politics of the capital city.
He became Deputy Mayor of Delhi and soon was chosen as the chief whip of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee.
Elected as President of DPCC in 1972, he held this office till May, 1983. He was elected as Member of Parliament in 1971 and again in 1980 from Delhi.
At times called the 'Old Fox' for his political acumen, the Congress leader was known as an able parliamentarian and skillful negotiator.
He was appointed as Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Housing from 1975 to 1977 and again from September 1982 to February 1983 as Minister of State for Works and Housing and Parliamentary Affairs. He later held the portfolio of Information and Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs.
Bhagat was given the charge of organising the Asian Games Village and appointed its Mayor in connection with the IX Asiad held in Delhi in 1982.
In his hay-day one of the most important personalities in Delhi's political scene, Bhagat was instrumental in speeding up the development of East Delhi, a constituency he represented many times.
Reputed as the `man of the masses' for being easily accessible to the people, Bhagat was a strict vegetarian and