PM Modi saddened by the passing away of ‘valued colleague and friend’ Union Minister Ananth Kumar

New Delhi: On Monday, President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi along with several political leaders condoled the demise of Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar.

Kumar died at a private hospital in Bengaluru in the early hours of Monday after battling lung cancer for several months, hospital authorities said. He was 59. The minister is survived by his wife Tejaswini and two daughters.

His body will be kept at National College grounds in Bengaluru for last respects. The national flag will fly at half mast across the country as a mark of respect to the union minister. Karnataka has announced three-day state mourning and all schools, colleges and offices are closed today.

Ananth Kumar had also served in the earlier BJP-led government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was the youngest minister in Vajpayee’s cabinet in 1998 and was serving as the minister for Civil Aviation, Tourism, Sports, Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation.

The six-time MP from Karnataka was the first person to speak in Kannada in the United Nations.

Kumar being a graduate in Arts and Law was associated with the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a student organisation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), before joining the BJP in 1987. He was also jailed along with other ABVP leaders during the Emergency of 1975.

In 2003, Kumar became the BJP’s Karnataka chief. The party won the highest number of seats in the assembly and the Lok Sabha under his stewardship. The parliamentarian from south Bengaluru constituency held charge of two ministries in the Narendra Modi government — Chemicals and Fertilisers since May 2014 and Parliamentary Affairs since July 2016.

Expressing his condolences, President Kovind said the death of Kumar was a tragic loss to public life in the country. “Sad to hear of the passing of Union minister and veteran parliamentarian Shri HN Ananth Kumar. This is a tragic loss to public life in our country and particularly for the people of Karnataka. My condolences to his family, colleagues and countless associates,” he tweeted.

The Prime Minister was extremely saddened by the passing away of “my valued colleague and friend” and described him as a remarkable leader, who entered public life at a young age and went on to serve society with utmost diligence and compassion.

PM Modi also said that he spoke to Kumar’s wife Dr Tejaswini and expressed condolences. “My thoughts are with his entire family, friends and supporters in this hour of grief and sadness. Om Shanti,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi also offered condolences to Kumar’s family and prayed for peace to the departed soul.

BJP president Amit Shah said Kumar served the party and the nation with unparalleled zeal and dedication. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also expressed deep sorrow over Kumar’s death.

“Deep sense of grief on hearing that Shri @AnanthKumar_BJP is no more with us. Served @BJP4India @BJP4Karnataka all along. Bengaluru was in his head and heart, always. May God give his family the strength to bear with this loss,” she tweeted.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was shocked to learn about the demise of his “senior colleague and friend”.

“Absolutely shocked and pained by the demise of very senior colleague and a friend Shri Ananth Kumar ji. He was a seasoned parliamentarian who served the nation in several capacities. His passion and devotion for the welfare of people was commendable. My condolences to his family,” he tweeted.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said passing away of Kumar was an irreparable loss for the country. “It is unbelievable that he is no more. His sudden death has taken away from us a true soldier of the country. My tributes to the departed soul,” he tweeted.

Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy expressed grief over the death of Kumar, and described him as a “value based” politician, who made significant contribution to the country as an MP and Union minister. “I have lost a great friend in his death. He was a value based politician, who made significant contribution to the country as MP and Union Minister. May his soul rest in peace and may God give strength to his family and his followers to endure this loss,” said Kumaraswamy.

“Kumar’s pro people attitude and activities made him apple of the eye of Bengalurians,” Kumaraswamy said in a condolence message.

“Ananth Kumar ji was a hardworking politician & an admired social worker. He had a huge contribution in Karnataka politics. He will be always remembered for his good work. His demise is saddening,” expressed Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala paid his last respects to Kumar: