P.C. Alexander, former Indira Gandhi aide, is dead (Third Lead)

August 10th, 2011 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 10 (IANS) P.C. Alexander, the powerful former principal secretary to prime minister Indira Gandhi who also served Rajiv Gandhi briefly, died at a hospital here Wednesday morning, his family said. He was 90.

Alexander was undergoing treatment at the Madras Medical Mission Hospital for cancer. The end came at 8.35 a.m.

“He used to be hospitalised and discharged frequently. We thought this time also he will be back home,” Alexander’s son Jawahar told IANS.

He said the body will be kept at the hospital and people will be able to pay their homage Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

“The body will be kept in the hospital till our relatives arrive from overseas,” Jawahar said.

The body will be flown to Kochi Friday evening and burial will take place Saturday at 12.30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral Church at his home town Mavelikara in Alappuzha district.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, in her condolence message, said the nation has lost an able administrator.

“Alexander started his career as a civil servant in 1948 and held several high positions. He also involved himself in public life,” she said.

Alexander was the principal secretary to Indira Gandhi and virtually served as her shadow and policy adviser for the years after her return to power in January 1980.

He briefly served Rajiv Gandhi but the latter was not very comfortable with his paternal style and had him replaced. He was sent as India’s high commissioner to Britain.

A former civil servant, Alexander was invited by Indira Gandhi to become her principal secretary when he was serving at the United Nations.

He became the governor of Tamil Nadu in 1988, holding the post till 1990. He served as the Maharashtra governor in 1993-2002.

He quit the post in disgust after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) first proposed his name for presidency but then opted for A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Alexander was also a former member of the Rajya Sabha and continued to take a keen interest in national affairs till some time ago.

Alexander’s death came three days after that of B.G. Deshmukh, another former civil servant who served as cabinet secretary and principal secretary to three prime ministers — Rajiv Gandhi, V.P. Singh and Chandra Shekhar. Deshmukh died in Pune.

Alexander’s autobiography “Through the Corridors of Power” gives a ringside view of the government’s functioning. He also wrote another book “My Years with Indira Gandhi”, which records the history and politics of the times.

Alexander is survived by his wife Ackamma Alexander, 88, and four children.

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