K C Pant passes away

K C Pant

Former Union Minister K C Pant, who had served under late Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and switched to BJP in the late 1990s, died here today.

He was 81.

The son of Govind Ballabh Pant, a former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Union Minister under late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Krishan Chandra Pant is survived by his wife former MP Ila Pant and two sons.

Pant, who had held the portfolios of Defence, Finance, Energy and Steel among others, was ailing for some time and breathed his last at 8:30 AM.

He was cremated shortly later without any state honours, a privilege normally given to former Union Ministers, apparently because the family wanted it to be a private affair.

Soon after hearing about Pant's death, Defence Minister A K Antony rushed to his residence to pay homage but after reaching there he was told that the body has been taken for cremation.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was "deeply saddened" at the death of Pant, who served the country and people with great distinction in his long political career.

"The country has lost an eminent public figure and an able administrator.... In his passing away, the country has lost an eminent public figure and an able administrator," Singh said.

Pant, known for his persuasive skills, played the role of 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.

Pant was Defence Minister in Rajiv Gandhi's Cabinet when the CAG report on Bofors Howitzer acquisition was tabled in Parliament and defended the government during those troubled days.

However, he switched loyalties to BJP in 1998 when it emerged as the ruling party. His wife successfully contested from Nainital Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket.

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