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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

Former defence minister KC Pant dies

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 15, 2012
First Published: 18:02 IST(15/11/2012) | Last Updated: 20:03 IST(15/11/2012)

KC Pant, who served as Cabinet minister under late Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and was deputy chairperson Planning Commission during the NDA regime, died on Thursday morning after brief illness.

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He was 81 years of age and is survived by wife Ila Pant and two sons.

Son of Bharat Ratna Govind Ballabh Pant and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Krishan Chandra Pant was ailing for some time and died at 8.30am.

As per his last wish, he was cremated in presence of his close family members and without any state honours, a privilege given to former Union ministers.

"After having been a public figure for more than fifty years of his life, the family dedicated a private mourning in his memory," a statement by his wife and two sons said.

Defence minister AK Antony reached his home to pay floral tribute but by then his body was taken for cremation. Nobody from BJP, in whose government he held the last official position, attended his funeral.

Pant started his political career as a Congress man and got first elected to Lok Sabha on Congress ticket in 1962 and also led the party in Rajya Sabha in 1979-80.

He held the important portfolio of finance in Indira Gandhi's Cabinet. As defence minister in Rajiv Gandhi's Cabinet, he defended the government on Bofors Howitzer deal with fury of allegations coming from the BJP led opposition. 

But, in 1998 he joined the BJP and was appointed as deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission. Then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee entrusted him the important job of negotiating with different stakeholders in Kashmir to negotiate possible solution.

The BJP, which abandoned him after loss in 2004 general elections, did not issue a condolence message till late on Thursday evening.   

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his passing away, the country has lost an eminent public figure and able administrator. "I convey my deepest condolences to you and other members of the family. I pray for the departed soul," the PM said, in a message to his wife.

Antony recalled Pant's contribution to Indian defence establishment and said he 'steered' the (defence) ministry at one of the most critical junctures of history when Indian Peace Keeping Forces were posted in Sri Lanka and Indian forces were deployed in Maldives to abort a coup attempt.

Antony also remembered Pant as one who bolstered the armed forces in a big way with the acquisition of country's flagship aircraft carrier INS Viraat and MIG-29 aircraft among many other acquisitions.

Born in 1931 in Nainital, Pant was a post graduate in science from Lucknow University and held many positions in the government in his over 50 years of public life.

He played a role of a negotiator during the separate Telangana agitation in the 1970s and was instrumental in reaching of an agreement called 'Mulki Rules' that gave prominence recruitment of locals and ended the agitation.


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