Sikander Bakht

Sikander Bakht (August 24, 1918 – February 23, 2004) was a politician from India and Indian Freedom Fighter.[1] He was one of the Indian statesman and one of leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Early life

Sikander Bakht was born in Delhi, India in 1918. He attended the Anglo Arabic Senior Secondary School, Delhi and completed his Bachelor of Science from the Anglo-Arabic College (now known as Zakir Husain College) in Delhi. During his school and college days he was a keen hockey player and represented Delhi University and Delhi in various tournaments. He also played and captained the Independents Hockey Club. He once said he is proud member of BJP and always maintained that India is land of secularism and supported the ethos of India.

Political career

In 1952 Bakht was elected to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi as a Congress candidate. In 1968 he was elected as the Chairman of Delhi Electric Supply Undertaking. In 1969 the Congress party split and Bakht stayed with Congress (Organisation). Bakht was then elected to The Metropolitan Council of Delhi as a Congress (O) candidate. On June 25, 1975 Emergency was declared by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Bakht along with other opposition leaders was imprisoned on June 25, 1975. He was lodged in The Rohtak Jail until his release in December 1976. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered General Elections in March 1977. As soon as the opposition leaders were released, they merged all opposition parties to form The Janta Party.
In March 1977 Bakht was elected to the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Indian Parliament) as a Janata Party candidate, from Chandni Chowk in New Delhi. Morarji Desai was appointed Prime Minister and he appointed Bakht as a Cabinet Minister for Works, Housing, Supply and Rehabilitation. He served in this capacity till July 1979. In 1980 the Janta Party split and Bakht opted to be with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was appointed as General Secretary of BJP. In 1984 he was made the Vice President of BJP.
In 1990 Bakht was elected to the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament)from Madhya Pradesh. In 1992 he became the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. (The Leader of Opposition is equivalent to Cabinet Minister’s post.) On 10 April 1996 he was reelected from Madhya Pradesh to the Rajya Sabha .[2]
In May 1996, Atal Bihari Vajpayee offered Bakht the post of Minister of Urban Affairs when he formed his government. Bakht, however, demanded a higher post, and on May 24 he was given the additional post of Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Vajpayee Government lasted only 13 days. Bakht was Foreign Minister for little more than a week, as he was forced to resign when Vajpayee’s government collapsed on June 1, 1996. After the collapse of the Vajpayee government, Bakht became The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha once again. In 1998 Vajpayee was again appointed Prime Minister and Bakht was appointed Industry Minister. In addition he was appointed as the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha.

Awards

In 2000 Bakht was awarded the Padma Vibhushan. This is the second highest Indian civilian award. The only other person in the BJP to be awarded the Padma Vibhushan is Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Death

Bakht finished his term in Rajya Sabha on April 9, 2002. 9 days later, Bakht was sworn in as Governor of Kerala, succeeding Sukhdev Singh Kang. At the age of 83 years, 237 days, he was the oldest Governor. He was highly popular and served in this post until his death. Bakht died in the Medical College Hospital in Kerala‘s capital city Thiruvananthapuram on February 23, 2004, from complications of intestinal surgery which was performed on February 19. He was the first Governor who died in office. He was replaced two days later by Karnataka governor T. N. Chaturvedi. There is growing concern, particularly among BJP members, that Bakht may have died because of medical negligence, but nothing has yet been proven.{{[3]}} Serving Chief Minister A. K. Antony, at the time of Sikander Bakht death, had to give into popular demand to order an inquiry to examine if there was any lapse on part of Doctors or any other motive.[4] [5]Then President of India, Shri A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said “In his death we have lost a prominent public personality and a statesman.” [6] And Prime Minister of India at that time, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee said “Mr. Bakht was a freedom-fighter. He struggled for democracy and the nationalist cause with courage and conviction. He rendered distinguished service as a member of my Cabinet for sometime.[7]
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