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British media pays tribute to R Venkataraman

world Updated: Jan 30, 2009 19:33 IST

Lauding the contribution of India's former president R Venkataraman, British media on Friday said he steered the country through political and economic mayhem, leaving its cherished democracy battered but sound.

"For half a century, Venkataraman was a stalwart of the Congress Party, the once unassailable party of Mahatma Gandhi and the independence movement," The Times said in an obituary report.

"As President, he had to deal with the chaotic political fallout of his party's disgrace and fall from dominance, when weak and often corrupt coalition governments dragged India from crisis to crisis,"

"Venkataraman steered the country through the political and economic mayhem, leaving its cherished democracy battered but sound," Times said.

It noted that in his five-year term, Venkataraman worked with four prime ministers, three of whom he appointed - Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Chandrasekhar and PV Narasimha Rao - amid the chaos of collapsing governments.

"India had never seen the like, and even he must have wondered at times if its democracy was tough enough to survive the criminals, caste bosses and satraps who were muscling into national politics and sullying its name."

Venkataraman, the eighth President of India died on Tuesday, aged 98.