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Sharad Pawar pays tribute to renowned socialist George Fernandes

Sharad Pawar pays tribute to renowned socialist George Fernandes
Pawar said Fernandes was one of the best parliamentarians, who made his mark.

Describing former defence minister George Fernandes as an "unflinching leader" who gave new strength and direction to the workers' movement in India, NCP president Sharad Pawar Tuesday said he has lost a "close friend". Fernandes, a lifelong socialist despite his political adventurism that included Cabinet posts in two ideological opposite governments where he ousted Coca-Cola in 1977 and oversaw the Kargil war in 1999, died Tuesday. He was 88.

In a series of tweets, Pawar said Fernandes was one of the best parliamentarians, who made his mark as an able administrator first, as the minister of industry, and later as the minister of defence. "I am deeply saddened to learn about the demise of George Fernandes, an unflinching leader who gave new strength and direction to workers' movement in India.

"We have lost a leader who was a fighter and dedicated his life to the cause of workers, labourers and common people of India. He was my close friend, I have lost my senior colleague in public life," Pawar said in a series of tweets. Pawar also posted pictures along with the tweets, with one frame showing him, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and Fernandes together. Politically at odds, Pawar, Fernandes and Thackeray were known to have shared a deep personal bond.

Known to be a fiery trade union leader, Pawar said Fernandes came to Mumbai in 1949 and became a 'Mumbaikar', Pawar said. "He plunged into workers' movement, voicing their concerns and fighting for justice. He was instrumental in setting up workers union in Mumbai Municipal Corporation and also organised railway strikes.

"He was one of the best Parliamentarians and also made his mark as an able administrator during his stint as Union Minister of Industry and later Defence. He was an influential and fluent orator having a command on many languages," he tweeted.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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