Veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes passed away on September 13, at the age of 80. The four-time Rajya Sabha MP was undergoing treatment at Yenepoya Hospital in Mangaluru, after he had suffered a head injury while exercising at his home.
The senior Congress leader had hit his head on the wall while he was doing push-ups at his home in July. He later complained of frequent headaches to the doctor, during his visits to the hospital for dialysis. After a series of medical check-ups, it was discovered that he had a clot in his brain, which ultimately led to his death.
My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Shri Oscar Fernandes Ji.
It is a personal loss for me. He was a guide and mentor to many of us in the Congress Party.
He will be missed and fondly remembered for his contributions. pic.twitter.com/NZVD592GSJ
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 13, 2021
Fernandes began his political career as a municipal councillor in Udupi in 1972, and was first elected to the Lok Sabha from the same city in 1980. Later, he went on to win from Udupi for five consecutive times to the Lok Sabha and, after he lost in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, he was nominated as a Rajya Sabha member.
Fernandes had served as the General Secretary of the All-India Congress Committee and also as the chairman of the Central Election Authority for the Congress. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, while offering his condolences to the family and friends of Fernandes, said his death was a personal loss for him. “It is a personal loss for me. He was a guide and mentor to many of us in the Congress party. He will be missed and fondly remembered for his contributions,” he said in a tweet.
A close confidante of the Gandhi family, a trusted aide of Sonia Gandhi, Fernandes had always remained a disciplined party man throughout his political life. He had also served as Parliament secretary to Rajiv Gandhi.
Saddened by the demise of Rajya Sabha MP Shri Oscar Fernandes Ji. In this sad hour, my thoughts and prayers are with his family and well-wishers. May his soul rest in peace: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) September 13, 2021
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too tweeted that he was “saddened” by the demise of Rajya Sabha MP Shri Oscar Fernandes Ji. “In this sad hour, my thoughts and prayers are with his family and well-wishers. May his soul rest in peace,” PM Narendra Modi tweeted from the official PMO account.
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 & guidance. pic.twitter.com/UXcLI765yP
— Congress (@INCIndia) September 13, 2021
Oscar Fernandes served as a Rajya Sabha member for four terms since 1998. He had served as Union Minister for Labour and Employment from 2006 to 2009 and had held different portfolios, including NRI affairs, Statistics and Programme Implementation in the UPA-II government led by Manmohan Singh. Fernandes was also the chairman of the central election authority of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and AICC general secretary in 1996.
Known as ‘a man for all seasons’, the veteran leader had handled tricky negotiation with north-east rebels, government and party matters with ease. “Brother Oscar”, as he is popularly known, had given his own touch to the talks with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland leaders, launching the meetings with prayers in which all present would participate, said media reports.
The son of a school teacher, Fernandes, who was the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president for two terms in the late eighties, was well-liked among party men and known to burn the midnight oil in whichever job he was entrusted with.
Meanwhile, the Congress party in their official handle tweeted that this Congress stalwart’s vision for an inclusive India had a huge influence on the politics of our times. “The Congress family will deeply miss his mentorship & guidance,” the Congress tweeted, paying tribute to the veteran leader, who was also a renowned Kuchipudi dancer.
He is survived by his wife, son and a daughter.