George Fernandes

Founder Member

George Mathew Fernandes (born 3 June 1930) is a former Indian trade unionist, politician, journalist, agriculturist, and member of Rajya Sabha from Bihar. He was a key member of the Janata Dal, and is the founder of the Samata Party. He has held several ministerial portfolios including communications, industry, railways, and defence, and was the only Christian minister in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet. A native of Mangalore, Fernandes was sent to Bangalore in 1946 to be trained as a priest. In 1949 he moved to Bombay, where he joined the socialist trade union movement. Becoming a fiery trade union leader, Fernandes organised many strikes and bandhs in Bombay in the 1950s and 1960s He Was Working in Indian Railways Service. He defeated Mr S K Patil an Indian national Congress stalwart in the 1967 parliamentary elections from the South Bombay (now south Mumbai) constituency and was known as a giant killer.The most notable agitation he organised was the 1974 Railway strike, when he was President of the All India Railwaymen's Federation. Fernandes went underground during the Emergency era of 1975, while challenging Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for imposing a state of emergency, but in 1976 he was arrested and tried in the infamous Baroda dynamite case. In 1977, after the Emergency had been lifted, Fernandes won the Muzaffarpur seat in Bihar in absentia and was appointed as Union Minister for Industries. During his tenure as union minister, he ordered American multinationals IBM and Coca Cola to leave the country, due to investment violations. He was the driving force behind the Konkan Railway project during his tenure as railway minister from 1989 to 1990. He was a defence minister in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government (1998–2004), when the Kargil War broke out between India and Pakistan, and India conducted its nuclear tests at Pokhran. A veteran socialist, Fernandes has been dogged by various controversies, including the Barak Missile scandal and the Tehelka affair. George Fernandes won nine Lok Sabha elections from 1967 to 2004.