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Sunday, 30 September, 2001, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
Top Indian politician dies
Wreckage of the plane which crashed, killing Scindia and all others on board
It is not known what caused the accident
By Frances Harrison in Delhi

The opposition Congress Party in India says its deputy leader, Madhav Rao Scindia, has been killed in a plane crash.

Seven other people are also thought to have died in the crash, which happened in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, some 250km (160 miles) south-east of the capital.

Local officials say the small private jet lost contact with air traffic control about 25 minutes after take-off from Delhi.

The chartered plane was on route to the city of Kanpur, where Madhavrao Scindia was due to address a political meeting, accompanied by his personal secretary and four journalists who were covering his visit.

The Congress Party has confirmed that Mr Scindia was killed and officials at the site say they have only found charred bodies near the wreckage. It is still not clear how the accident happened.

Major blow

The loss of Mr Scindia is likely to be a major blow to the Congress Party. He was a senior politician, descended from one of India's former royal families, with an impeccable record for honesty.

Descended from one of India's royal families, Scindia had an impeccable reputation for honesty
Scindia was tipped to be future prime minister
Educated at Oxford, he had been in politics for 30 years and had been minister of railways, civil aviation and human resource development at various stages of his career.

At 57, Mr Scindia was considered one of the most promising Congress leaders, often tipped as a possible future prime minister, especially when opposition to Sonia Gandhi's leadership of the Congress Party rose because of her non-Indian origins.

See also:

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