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.
Pant himself became Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission in 2000 under the then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee who was the Chairman of the body.
Condoling the death of Pant, Antony said his contribution will be "fondly remembered" as he steered the Ministry at one of the most critical junctures of history.
"Pant steered the Ministry at one of the most critical junctures of history as the Indian Peace Keeping Forces were deployed in Sri Lanka as a stepping stone to the tortuous journey for peace in the island nation.
"The Indian troops were also deployed at short notice in Maldives to abort a coup attempt, in a clear manifestation of our commitment to the promotion of peace and stability in South Asian Region," he said.
Antony also remembered Pant as one who bolstered the armed forces in a big way with the acquisition of country's flagship aircraft carrier INS Viraat and MIG-29 aircraft among many other acquisitions.
"He was also instrumental in the setting up of the first Coast Guard Air Station at Daman," Antony said.
Born in 1931 in Nainital, Pant was a post graduate in science and joined Congress to enter politics. Pant first got elected to Lok Sabha in 1962 and was reelected in 1967, 1971 and 1989.
Pant, who later became the Chairman of Tenth Finance Commission, was also elected to Rajya Sabha in 1978 and was Leader of the House during 1979-1980.
PM, Defence Minister express grief over Pant's demise
(PTI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony and other leaders today expressed grief over the demise of former Union Minister K C Pant, recalling his service to country during a long political career.
In a condolence letter to Pant's wife Ila, the Prime Minister said the country has lost an eminent public figure and an able administrator.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of your husband Shri K C Pant. Shri Pant served our country and people with great distinction in his long political career," Singh wrote in the letter.
Expressing his "deepest condolences" to the family, Singh said, "He (Pant) distinguished himself as a Member of Parliament and as a Minister in the Union Council of Ministers holding important portfolios like Home, Defence and Finance."
"On this sad occasion, I convey my deepest condolences to you and other members of the family. I pray for the departed soul," Singh added.
Defence Minister A K Antony in his message expressed "profound grief" at the sad passing away of Pant, who was the Defence Minister from 1987 to 1989.
Stating that Pant's contribution will be fondly remembered, he said, "Pant steered the Ministry at one of the most critical junctures of history as the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) was deployed in Sri Lanka as a stepping stone to the tortuous journey for peace in the island nation."
Referring to the Operation Cactus conducted by Indian armed forces in Maldives, he said, "The Indian troops were also deployed at short notice in Maldives to abort a coup attempt, in a clear manifestation of our commitment to the promotion of peace and stability in South Asian Region."
81-year-old, who was ailing for some time, breathed his last at 8:30 AM today.
Nitish condoles demise of K C Pant
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today expressed profound grief at the demise of former union minister K C Pant.
Pant was a respected politician and an able administrator, who contributed immensely in modernization of the armed forces during his stint as the union defence minister, Kumar said in a condolence message.
The former union minister died in New Delhi earlier in the day.
Pant: an old school politician
Known for his erudition and persuasive manners, Krishna Chandra Pant belonged to the old school of politicians whose administrative acumen earned him plum responsibilities in Union Government and prominent role in Parliament.
Son of a freedom fighter and former UP Chief Minister and Union Home Minister Govind Ballabh Pant, K C Pant was known for his negotiating skills that late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi chose him as the chief negotiator to work out a deal with the protagonists of the separate Telangana movement in the 1970s.
As Minister of State for Home Affairs, he was successful in evolving an agreement that led to 'Mulki Rules' that gave prominence to recruitment of locals in jobs in the region in Andhra Pradesh government service.
Pant, who died in his Delhi residence this morning, was also made the interlocutor by the then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee for Kashmir during the NDA government.
Born in 1931 in Nainital, Pant was a post graduate in science and joined Congress to enter politics.
Pant first got elected to Lok Sabha in 1962 and was reelected in 1967, 1971 and 1989. Between 1978 and 1984, he was elected to Rajya Sabha and was the Leader of the House during 1979-1980 when Charan Singh became Prime Minister.
During his political career spanning over 40 years, Pant had held the portfolios of Finance, Defence, Steel and Heavy Engineering, Irrigation and Power and Energy.
After his long association with Congress, he switched to BJP in 1998 when it emerged as a ruling party and Vajpayee made him Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission in 2000. His wife Ila contested on a BJP ticket from Nainital in 1998 and won the poll.
As Defence Minister, Pant had succeeded V P Singh in 1987 and at the height of Bofors controversy defended the government in Parliament during debates on the CAG report on the arms scandal.
He had also served in the ministries of Education and Department of Science and Technology, Atomic Energy and Electronics and Space.
Pant was also the Chairman of Tenth Finance Commission, Energy Advisory Board, Task Force on National Security Council, Infrastructure and Member of the National Security Council.
A widely travelled person, he has represented India in international arena on various occasions, including in the Human Rights Commission, Indian delegation to the UN and the Ministerial meeting of GATT in Urugay.
Born in Nainital in 1931, Pant was a post graduate inscience and joined Congress to enter politics.