Bhairon Singh Shekhawat cremated with full state honours


Jaipur : Former vice president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat was cremated with full state honours here Sunday after thousands of people, including senior politicians, bid him a tearful adieu.

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The mortal remains of Shekhawat, also a three-time Rajasthan chief minister, were consigned to the flames in a ground near Vidhyadhar Nagar stadium, some 15 km from his residence. A memorial would be constructed at the site.

His grandsons, Vikramaditya Singh and Abhimanyu Singh lit the pyre.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, acting Rajasthan Governor Shivraj Patil, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his cabinet colleagues, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani, and BJP president Nitin Gadkari were among the leaders present.

Police bands played tunes of mourning while a guard of honour reversed their guns and bowed heads in homage. A gun salute was also fired.

Shekhawat, 86 died at the Sawai Man Singh Hospital on Saturday, two days after he was admitted following complaints of uneasiness and breathing problems caused by a lung infection. He is survived by his wife Suraj Kanwar and a daughter.

The veteran BJP leader’s body was first brought to the party’s state headquarters where several people including Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Rajya Sabha MP Najma Heptullah paid their last respects.

Shekhawat’s residence saw mourners coming to pay their last respects right from the morning. Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Gadkari, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Gehlot were among those present at his residence from where the funeral procession began.

The city saw emotional scenes as his body, being transported in a flower-bedecked carriage, passed through the main markets of the city.

Despite it being a Sunday, the roads were chock-a-block and traffic jams were reported on all major roads.

People stood along both sides of the roads with tears in their eyes and shouted slogans like “Bhairon Singh amar rahe, amar rahe” (Long live Bhairon Singh) and “Rajasthan Ka Ek Hi Singh… Bhairon Singh, Bhairon Singh” while offering flowers to their leader.

Shekhawat was one of the most popular politicians of the state. He joined politics in 1952 and was a member of the first Rajasthan legislative assembly.

“He used to love to meet people, talk to them and listen to their problems on a regular basis… It was his routine”, said Arun Chaturvedi, president of BJP’s Rajasthan unit.

Following the death of then vice president Krishan Kant, Shekhawat was elected to a five-year term. He was the country’s 11th vice president from August 2002 to July 2007.

In 2007 he lost the presidential election to Pratibha Patil.