NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Former Indian Prime Minister V.P. Singh, remembered for his controversial policy of reserving a larger share of jobs for the country’s disadvantaged castes, died on Thursday after a long battle with cancer.
Singh, 77, who was suffering from blood cancer and chronic renal failure, died on Thursday afternoon in New Delhi’s Apollo hospital, a hospital spokesman said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, no relation to the deceased, said India had lost a great patriot whose empathy for the country’s poorer classes would always be remembered.
Singh served as finance and defence minister in late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet but parted ways with Gandhi, and led a coalition that defeated him at the 1989 elections.
He is best known for his policy of reserving government jobs for India’s disadvantaged castes, which sparked off widespread protests from the country’s upper classes.
Singh’s move, aimed at empowering India’s oppressed poorer castes, fragmented the country’s politics and led to the emergence of strong caste-based parties.