RLD chief and former Union minister Chaudhary Ajit Singh dies during COVID-19 treatment

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief and former Union minister Chaudhary Ajit Singh died on Thursday while undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at a Gurugram hospital.

Ajit Singh, who died at the age of 82, was a popular farmers’ leader and the son of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh.

His son Jayant Chaudhary shared a message on Twitter confirming that Ajit Singh passed away a few weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19 on 20 April.

An alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and Illinois Institute of Technology, Singh first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1986 and then was elected to the Lok Sabha six times from Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat constituency. He served as a Union minister in governments led by VP Singh, PV Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.

Singh was the Union minister of industry in former prime minister VP Singh's cabinet from December 1989 to November 1990. He later served as the Union minister of food in the PV Narasimha Rao-led cabinet and as the minister of agriculture from 2001 to 2003 in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. When his party joined the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2011, he served as the Union minister of civil aviation from December 2011 to May 2014.

He founded the RLD in 1996 and focused on farmers’ issues, especially in western Uttar Pradesh. His son Jayant served as a Lok Sabha MP from 2009 to 2014. He played a key role in government formations by forging alliances between political parties.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah, expressed their condolences.

With inputs from agencies