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Chandra Shekhar
Chandra Shekhar

Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Raoa (July 1, 1927 - July 8, 2007) was the 9th Prime Minister of the Republic of India.

Early years
He was born on July 1, 1927 to a farming family in Ibrahimpatti - Ballia in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Chandra Shekar did his Master of Arts (MA) at Allahabad University. He was known as a firebrand in student politics. After graduation, he became active in socialist politics.

Political life
He came under the spell of Acharya Narendra Dev, a fiery Socialist leader in the beginning of his political career. From 1962 to 1967, Shekhar belonged to the Rajya Sabha, the Upper house of the Parliament of India. He had a nationwide padayatra in 1984 to know the country better, which he claimed gave the jitters to Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister. He was called a "Young Turk".

After his predecessor, V.P. Singh, resigned, he led a breakaway faction of the Janata Dal, known as the Samajwadi Janata Party. The Indian National Congress decided to extend outside support to his government to avoid snap elections, and Shekhar held a bare majority in a coalition with both the Communist parties and the BJP. The relationship crumbled quickly, as the Congress party accused him of spying on Rajiv Gandhi, their leader at that time. The Congress Party then boycotted Parliament and as Shekhar's faction only had about 60 MPs, he resigned in a nationally televised address on March 6, 1991. He remained in office until national elections could be held later that year.

Shekhar was known for abiding by the parliamentary conventions and was honoured with the inaugural Outstanding Parliamentarian Award in 1995.

Chandra Shekhar was a member of the Lok Sabha, India's lower house of Parliament. He led Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya), (Socialist People's Party (National)). Starting in 1977, he won election to the Lok Sabha eight times from Ballia in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The only election that he lost was in 1984 against Mr. Jagganath Chaudhary of Congress(I).

Shekhar suffered from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer of the plasma cell. On May 3, 2007, he was hospitalised in critical condition after his condition had deteriorated. Shekhar died at the age of 80 in New Delhi on July 8, 2007. He was survived by two sons. One of them, Neeraj Shekhar contested and won the Ballia Lok Sabha which was vacated through his father's death.