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Former Indian PM Gujral dies at 92

Dec. 1, 2012 at 1:19 AM   |   Comments

NEW DELHI, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Inder Kumar Gujral, who served as India's prime minister for 11 months in 1997 and 1998, died Friday. He was 92.

Gujral had been hospitalized since Nov. 19 for a lung infection, the Hindustan Times reported. Doctors at the hospital in Gurgaon said multiple organs failed.

A state funeral and cremation was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. A seven-day official period of mourning was announced after news of his death became public.

Gujral was a veteran of the struggle for Indian independence and was jailed by British authorities in 1942 during the "Quit India" movement. He was a longtime member of the Congress Party but switched in the 1980s to the leftwing Janata Dal party.

In 1997 and 1998, Gujral headed a coalition government. He was the first prime minister from Punjab and put forth the "Gujral Doctrine" for friendly relations with India's neighbors, including Pakistan.

"As prime minister, he set an example of grace under pressure, of composure in difficult circumstances and of steadfastness to principles," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

Before he became prime minister, Gujral served as external affairs minister, where he restored India's relationship with Bangladesh. He also started negotiations on a trade agreement with Sri Lanka and rebooted India's relationship with Pakistan.

Gujral's wife, Sheila, a well-known poet, died last year. He is survived by his two sons, Naresh, a member of Parliament, and Vishal.

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