President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and other leaders across the political spectrum condoled the death of Union minister Ananth Kumar in a Bengaluru hospital on Monday.
The 59-year-old Union Parliamentary Affairs minister and long-time BJP member had been battling lung cancer for several months.
Expressing his condolences, President Kovind said Kumar’s death was a tragic loss to public life in the country.
“Sad to hear of the passing of Union minister and veteran parliamentarian Shri H.N. 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.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu described Kumar as a “colleague for years together, from students’ movement to Parliament” and hailed him as a “dedicated statesman”.
Prime Minister Modi expressed sadness at the passing away of a valued colleague and friend.
“Extremely saddened by the passing away of my valued colleague and friend, Shri Ananth Kumar Ji. He was a remarkable leader, who entered public life at a young age and went on to serve society with utmost diligence and compassion. He will always be remembered for his good work,” Modi tweeted.
Describing Kumar as an able administrator, the prime minister said he was a great asset to the BJP.
“He worked hard to strengthen the party in Karnataka, particularly in Bengaluru and surrounding areas. He was always accessible to his constituents,” Modi said.
“I spoke to his wife, Dr. Tejaswini Ji and expressed condolences on the passing away of Shri Ananth Kumar Ji. My thoughts are with his entire family, friends and supporters in this hour of grief and sadness. Om Shanti,” he said.
BJP president Amit Shah said Kumar served the party and the nation with “unparalleled zeal and dedication”, while Home Minister Rajnath Singh said his passion and devotion for the welfare of people was commendable.
Shah said he was grief stricken to learn about Kumar’s untimely demise.
“… Ananth ji worked tirelessly to strengthen the BJP in the state of Karnataka. He was a remarkable administrator who served various ministerial portfolios. His passing away has left a void in the BJP and Indian polity that cannot be filled soon,” he tweeted.
Congress chief Gandhi in a tweet, said: “I’m sorry to hear about the passing of Union Minister, Shri Ananth Kumar ji, in Bengaluru, earlier this morning. My condolences to his family & friends. May his soul rest in peace. Om Shanti.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also expressed sadness at the passing away of Kumar and sent her heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and supporters.
Kumar was suffering from cancer and had come back from the US in October after treatment at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, New York. He is survived by wife and two daughters.
A a six-time member of Parliament, Kumar had climbed the political ladder steadily from being an RSS worker to be the Union minister in his thirties.
Kumar had been in the inner circle of the central leadership of the BJP — be it during the heyday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Narendra Modi now.
Several Union ministers and senior leaders cutting across party lines also condoled Kumar’s demise.
Condoling Kumar’s demise, Youth Affairs and Sports and Information and Broadcasting minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said his death was a tremendous loss to the party, Bengaluru and India.
“My prayers and condolences are with his loved ones in this tragic time,” he said.
“I am pained to know about the sad demise of Shri Ananth Kumar. He was like my younger brother. His death is a personal loss for me,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted: “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.”
“I am deeply pained at the demise of senior Union Minister and a dedicated socio-political activist Shri Ananth Kumar Ji. My heartfelt condolences to his family and well wishers,” Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy expressed grief over Kumar’s death, describing him as a “value based” politician who made a significant contribution to the country as a parliamentarian and a Union minister.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condoled the BJP leader’s death and expressed his deepest sympathies to Kumar’s family, friends and colleagues.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and state Congress president Ashok Chavan also paid their tributes to Kumar.
Shiv Sena spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said Kumar was an “excellent” parliamentary affairs minister and had a good rapport with leaders from all political parties.
“With his work, Ananth Kumar has left a mark in the BJP and the RSS. He was a gentleman and sanskari politician,” Raut said.
Ananth Kumar had been associated with politics since he was young and was well aware of issues concerning students and youth, Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule said, condoling Kumar’s death.