Dharamshala: His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed grief at the demise of former Union Defence Minister and his longtime friend, George Fernandes.
In his condolence letter to Smt Leila Kabir, His Holiness wrote, “I am saddened to learn of the passing away of my friend, Mr George Fernandes after a prolonged illness. I offer my condolences to you and your family members at this great loss.”
“I had the privilege of knowing him for over five decades during which we met regularly, and as you know, I continued to visit him after he retired from active politics. I admired him greatly because he dedicated himself to what he believed in, no matter how difficult the situation was. Mr Fernandes was a great humanitarian and believer in truth. Throughout his life, he was a voice to millions of poor and needy people of the country. He had firm conviction for justice and wisdom. He was a real heroic leader.”
His Holiness added, “He was a steady friend who was sympathetic to the Tibetan cause right from the beginning. He never missed an opportunity to speak up for the Tibetan people as well as for others in similar situation.”
“Although George and I are from different religious traditions, as a Buddhist I am confident he would be reborn yet again to serve his country, in particular, the cause of the less privileged people.”
“As I had told him during our meetings over the years, I will always remember him,” His Holiness wrote, concluding his condolence remarks.
First elected to the Lok Sabha in 1967, George Fernandes was one of the top leaders of the socialist movement in the 1970s. He served several tenures as a Union Cabinet Minister, holding important portfolios such as defence, railways and communications at the centre. George Fernandes was a senior Janata Dal leader before he founded the Samata Party.