Mangaluru: Veteran Congress leader, former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha member Oscar Fernandes died at a private hospital in Mangaluru on Monday, reported news agencies. He was 80, family sources said.
Fernandes was hospitalised in July after suffering a fall while doing yoga at his house. He had also undergone a surgery to remove a clot in his brain.
“We are deeply saddened by the demise of Shri Oscar Fernandes ji, our heartfelt condolences to his family. A Congress stalwart, his vision for an inclusive India had a huge influence on the politics of our times. The Congress family will deeply miss his mentorship and guidance,” the Congress party said in a tweet.
Hailing from Udupi, Mr. Fernandes had been a member of Parliament since 1980. As a Union minister in the UPA government, Mr. Fernandes held the portfolios of Road Transport and Highways, Labour and Employment, Statistics and Programme Implementation and Overseas Affairs both as a Cabinet Minister and Minister of State.
He was among the close confidants of Indira Gandhi’s family, including former prime minister late Rajiv Gandhi, his wife Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul Gandhi. He served Rajiv Gandhi as his Parliamentary Secretary. He had held various positions in the All India Congress Committee (AICC), including general secretary, and had served as president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC). He was among the six trustees of National Herald.
He served as a member of the Lok Sabha from Udupi from 1980-98, and was a member of Rajya Sabha since 1998.
He had his early education in Board High School in Udupi and had graduated from the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College in Udupi. He entered politics through the Youth Congress and had been elected to the then Udupi civic body in 1972.
He entered the Lok Sabha from the then Udupi constituency in 1980, and was re-elected until he lost to I. M. Jayaram Shetty of BJP in 1998. Later, he got elected to the Rajya Sabha.
A practitioner of yoga, Mr. Fernandes had spoken in support of the Indian systems of medicine, including naturopathy, in Parliament.