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Arun Nehru, former Union minister, dies at 69

Arun Nehru, former union minister and powerful figure during the prime ministership of Rajiv Gandhi, passed away on Thursday night after prolonged illness.

delhi Updated: Jul 26, 2013 12:18 IST

Arun Nehru, former Union minister and a powerful figure during the prime ministership of Rajiv Gandhi, passed away on Thursday night after prolonged illness.

Nehru, 69, a cousin of Rajiv Gandhi and minister for internal security in his government, died in a hospital in Gurgaon, according to family sources.

The funeral will take place at the Lodhi crematorium in New Delhi on Friday.

Nehru had been admitted to the Fortis hospital in Gurgaon 18 days ago and passed away at 10:47pm on Thursday. He is survived by his wife Subhadra and two daughters.

Lucknow-born Nehru was a three-time Lok Sabha member. He had a successful career in the corporate world before joining politics in the early 1980s.

When Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister in 1984, he was his close adviser and minister of state for internal security.

However, he fell out with Rajiv Gandhi later.

Nehru had moved out of the family home in Allahabad at an early age and studied at the La Martiniere Boys’ College in Lucknow. At the age of 20, he began a successful career in the corporate world, which he gave up 17 years later when Indira Gandhi asked him to join politics. Nehru was then president of the Jenson and Nicholson group of companies.

Nehru was accused by the CBI of causing a loss to the exchequer in a pistol deal with Czechoslovakia in 1988 during his tenure as minister of state. The Supreme Court had recently stayed the proceedings in the case.

As minister of state for home in 1986, Arun Nehru played a prominent role in the unlocking of Babri Masjid after the disputed premises had been locked in 1949. The move revived the decades-old dispute between Hindus and Muslims over claim to the site of the mosque, built during Mughal emperor Babur’s rule allegedly after demolition of a temple of Hindu deity Rama.

Mourning his death, Lord Swaraj Paul, who had known Nehru closely for several decades, said he was a very warm person and a loyal friend.

"He was a wonderful human being. My heart goes to his family in this hour of grief," he said.

Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav described Arun Nehru as a “leader with political maturity”, who played a key role in formation of the Janata Dal government.

First Published: Jul 26, 2013 00:04 IST