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Former Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat dies

Jaipur: Former Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat died at the Sawai Man Singh Hospital here on Saturday. He was 87.

Shekhawat was admitted to the ICU of the hospital on May 13 after he complained of uneasiness and breathing trouble.

Born on October 23, 1923, Shekhawat was the 11th Vice-President of India.

He served in that position from August 2002. He was elected for a five-year term by the electoral college following the death of Krishan Kant and resigned on July 21, 2007 after losing the presidential election to Pratibha Patil.

He served as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan thrice from 1977 to 1980, 1990 to 1992, and 1993 to 1998.

He joined politics in 1952. Till 1977, the Indian National Congress won elections in majority of the states in India, but Shekhawat always posed a challenge to the Congress in Rajasthan.

In the 1967 elections, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh (Shekhawat”s Party) and the Swatantra Party alliance reached a near majority but couldn”t form the government in the state. But during the Janata wave in 1977, Shekhawat secured a landslide victory, bagging 151 of 200 seats.

After the Jan Sangh split in the year 1980, Shekhawat joined the Bhartiya Janata Party as one of its founders with his supporters.

In the next elections, Shekhawat led the BJP to a win in the Rajasthan Assembly elections. It emerged as a single largest party with 96 seats.

In the 1998 elections, the Shekhawat-led government lost due to the onion price rise issue. But the BJP bounced back in the general elections in 1999, just a year after assembly polls, winning 16 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats from Rajasthan.

Shekhawat was elected Vice President of India in 2002, when he defeated Congress candidate Sushil Kumar Shinde by a margin of 149 votes out of the 750 votes polled.

In July 2007, Shekhawat fought the presidential election as an independent backed by National Democratic Alliance, but lost to United Progressive Alliance-Left backed candidate Pratibha Devisingh Patil.

Following his defeat, Shekhawat resigned July 21, 2007.

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