Former Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala, who took over reins of the state in the difficult period when militancy was at its peak in the mid-80s, died here on Saturday at the age of 91.
Barnala, who served as Chief Minister from 1985 to 1987, was admitted to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here on Thursday.
A moderate leader of the Akali Dal, he became chief minister after the Rajiv-Longowal accord to usher in peace in the troubled state was reached in the summer of 1985. Barnala was admitted to the Cardiac Care Unit of PGI and was shifted on Saturday morning to respiratory ICU where he breathed his last.
As Governor of Tamil Nadu, Barnala had famously refused to recommend dismissal of the DMK government in 1991 when the late Chandrashekhar was the Prime Minister for a short time. When he was transferred to Bihar following his refusal, he chose to resign as Governor.
The government headed by Chandrashekhar then dismissed the Karunanidhi ministry using the “otherwise” provision in Article 356 of the Constitution after Barnala’s refusal to make a recommendation.
He had also served as Governor of Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Barnala was Agriculture Minister at the Centre in the Moraji Desai government and Chemicals & Fertilizers Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Cabinet. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has condoled the death of former Senior Akali Leader.
Barnala is survived by wife Surjit Kaur and two sons, including Gaganjit Singh Barnala, a former MLA. He had been unwell for some time before he was shifted to PGI.
The departed leader’s last rites will take place on Sunday in his native Barnala town in Punjab.