Former prime minister V.P.Singh cremated with full state honours (Lead)November 29th, 2008 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS
Allahabad, Nov 29 (IANS) The last rites of former prime minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh were performed Saturday with full state honours here on the banks of the Sangam, the holy confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers.Amid chanting of Vedic hymns, his eldest son Ajeya Singh went around the funeral pyre before lighting it and consigning the body to flames.
As the flames rose, several of his supporters raised slogans of “V.P. Singh amar rahe (Long live V.P. Singh)”.
Earlier, a gun salute was also presented to Singh, whose body wrapped in the national tri-colour, was brought to the cremation ground in a procession. Wreaths were laid on the body on behalf of several notables before the body was consigned to flames.
Even as several leaders from various political parties were present on the occasion, nobody from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) turned up. “There was no senior leader from the BJP,” a senior official of the district administration told IANS.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav - both close associates of the former prime minister in the eighties - were present in the funeral procession.
Union food processing industries minister Subodh Kant Sahay, rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad, chemicals and fertilisers minister Ram Vilas Paswan, and leaders of the Congress Party’s Uttar Pradesh unit, including state president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, and senior leader Pramod Tiwari also attended the cremation.
Earlier, grief-stricken mourners lined the streets Saturday as the body of the former prime minister was carried out of his ancestral home at the start of the funeral procession here.
The body of Singh, who died after a prolonged illness at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital Thursday, was flown in here by a special aircraft Friday afternoon and taken straight to his home, Manda House, named after the erstwhile princely state of Manda near Allahabad.
A scion of the erstwhile ruling family of the state, he was often called ‘Raja saheb’.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati visited Manda House Friday evening to pay her respects to Singh. She also announced a seven-day state mourning for the former prime minister, who also served as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister between 1980 and 1982.
A public holiday was declared in Allahabad Saturday and all commercial establishments remained shut as a mark of respect to Singh.