'He will be remembered for his simplicity and for taking up the cause of labourers with great passion,' remembers veteran Mumbai journalist Olga Tellis.
He was a very simple man and was always one with the workers. Workers faced a lot of injustice at that time and he took up their cause with great passion.
He was a great orator and could speak many languages. The workers and labourers of today are much better paid now and Fernandes's work as a trade unionist paved the way for these better conditions.
He was a protege of trade union leader P D Mello and a compatriot of trade union leader Datta Samant.
The workers trusted him and believed in him. He was like one of them.
I remember as defence minister when he had gone to the Siachen Glacier, he was very upset to see that soldiers did not have proper shoes and saw that snow boots were ordered.
He was one defence minister who was popular, and it was because of his qualities of being able to connect with soldiers.
Even as a parliamentarian, he was a very good speaker. He will remain a symbol of the opposition to the Emergency.
He always wore his trademark kurta-pyjama. It was his simplicity and understanding of the mazdoor that he will be remembered for.
Olga Tellis spoke to Rediff.com's Archana Masih.