president R. Venkataraman dead
New Delhi, Jan 27 (IANS) Former president R. Venkataraman,
who ushered in the country's first coalition government in
1989, died here Tuesday after a prolonged illness, officials
said. He was 98.
Venkataraman breathed his last at 2.30 p.m. at the Army Research
and Referral Hospital where he was admitted Jan 12 with urinary
infection. He also needed respiratory support.
Venkataraman was the country's eighth president, from July
25, 1987 to July 25, 1992. He was earlier the vice president
A veteran member of the Congress, he swore in V.P. Singh as
prime minister in 1989 following elections that produced a
hung Lok Sabha. It was the country's first coalition government.
President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari and
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh mourned Venkataraman's death.
The government has announced a seven-day state mourning, from
Jan 27 to Feb 2.
President Patil said in a message: "In his passing away,
the nation has lost a true patriot and a distinguished luminary."
Manmohan Singh added: "He was an outstanding figure of
our public life. He will be long remembered for his services
to the nation, his strength of character and his knowledge
Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said party president
Sonia Gandhi and the Congress condoled the death of one who
"had a distinguished political career at every level
During the mourning period, the national flag will fly at
half mast on all buildings throughout India, the home ministry
The government also announced the cancellation of the Jan
29 Beating Retreat ceremony as a mark of respect to the former
Born Dec 4, 1910 in Rajamedam in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district,
Venkataraman obtained a law degree from Chennai's Law College.
He married Janaki in 1938 and they had three daughters.
He took part in the Quit India movement of 1942 and was jailed
for two years.
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