The ‘grand old man ‘of Himachal Pradesh politics, Virbhadra Singh (87), died at Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, Shimla, early Thursday morning due to post-Covid complications. Popularly known as “Raja Sahib”, Virbhadra, who remained the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh six times over 21 years, had been in hospital since April 30 after recovering from Covid-19. He was on ventilator support for the last two days after his health condition deteriorated.
Virbhadra Singh had first tested positive for Covid-19 on April 12 this year and then recovered. He was first admitted to Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital Shimla (IGMC) and then to a private hospital in Mohali where he had beaten the infection.
After returning to Shimla he was again taken to IGMC on April 30 and had remained under the observation of doctors since then. He had again tested positive for Covid-19 on June 11, but recovered again. However, he had to be put on ventilator support after developing some respiratory problems two days back.
According to Dr Janak Raj Pakhretia, IGMC senior medical superintendent, former chief minister died at around 4 am. He said the former chief minister was declared dead after suffering a cardio-pulmonary arrest, He said that Virbhadra Singh had tested positive for Corona twice and recovered, but was later diagnosed with severe pneumonia. “With heavy heart the institution is informing that he breathed his last around 4 am. After his health deteriorated he was shifted on a ventilator but could not recover. We feel sorry that despite our best efforts we could not save his life,” he added.
Son of Late Raja Sir Padam Singh of Bushahr state; Virbhadra Singh was born on June 23, 1934, at Sarahan in Shimla district. His demise has created a void in the state, especially in the Congress. While the Himachal Pradesh government has declared 3-day state mourning following the former chief minister’s death, shops in Shimla remained closed as a mark of respect to the veteran leader.
People as well as politicians thronged Holly Lodge, the residence of the former chief minister, to pay their respects. Governor Bandaru Dattatraya and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur also visited Holly Lodge.
The mortal remains of Virbhadra Singh will be kept at Holly Lodge on Thursday and at the Ridge from 9 am to 11.30 am on Friday and then at Rajeev Bhawan, the state Congress office, from 11.40 am to 1 pm to enable party leaders to pay tributes to their beloved leader.
At around 1 pm, the mortal remains would be taken to Rampur by road and will reach Padam Palace Rampur around 6pm. On Saturday, Virbhadra’s body will be kept at Padam Palace from 8 am to 2 pm so that the people can have the last glimpse of their leader. His last rites will be performed along the banks of Satluj in Rampur at 3pm with full state honours.