George Mathew Fernandes, an Indian trade unionist, statesman, journalist, freethinker, and member of Rajya Sabha from Bihar died on 29th January 2019 at the age of 88. In the last few years, he was away from the public eye due to his prolonged illness.
Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley recalled the days when he and Fernandes spent in jail in the ’70s during the emergency.
When Indira Gandhi had announced the general elections, the political prisoners favored contesting in the elections however, George favored in boycotting the elections. Fernandes believed that the elections would help Indira Gandhi earn legitimacy and continue her dictatorship. Jaitely said that George was in the "hopeless minority" but still stuck to his view.
After the Janata Party was formed George was chosen to contest from Bihar where he refused to sign on the nomination Papers. It was Morarji Desai, who came to the Tiz Hazari with a set of nomination papers, to get George to sign them so that he could contest from prison.
George eventually gave in and signed his nomination papers. Soon after, Fernandes won the elections with a huge margin. He was also the one who forced Coco-cola and IBM to dilute stake in India but eventually, these companies exit India during the Janata Government
Later in NDA 1.0 George Fernandes served as Defense Minister under Vajpayee leadership and took tough decisions and was also informal troubleshooter for Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Union Minister described George Fernandes as "a political worker, an extraordinary leader, a powerful trade unionist, a parliamentarian that many would dread to face and above all a dissenter."