New Delhi [India], Jan. 14 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday offered their condolences to the family of former Punjab chief minister Surjit Singh Barnala, who passed away today at the ripe age of 91 and hailed his contributions in the national freedom movement.
"Pained by demise of Shri Surjit Singh Barnala. His rich service (and) contribution to the nation will be remembered. Condolences to his family," the Prime Minister said in a tweet. In a statement released by the Congress party, Sonia said that the late Barnala was a freedom fighter, an honourable politician, a good writer and an incredible human being, who played a crucial role in restoring peace in Punjab and forging the Rajiv-Longowal Accord, among other political feats.
Barnala was admitted in the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh and was undergoing treatment for his prolonged illness.
Barnala is survived by his wife Surjit Kaur, an active politician, and two sons and a daughter. Barnala was also a former governor of Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and also served as a Cabinet Minister.
Born in Ateli, Haryana, in a well-to-do family, Barnala passed Law from Lucknow University in 1946. He was involved in the Quit India Movement of 1942. Barnala contested the election for the first time in 1952 but lost. He was later elected to Parliament in 1977 and was inducted in the Morarji Desai Government as an agriculture minister.
Barnala is credited for setting up Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar..