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Congress leader and former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes passes away at 80

Our Bureau Mangaluru | Updated on September 13, 2021

Was hospitalised in July after suffering a fall

The former Union Minister and Member of Rajya Sabha, Oscar Fernandes (80), died in a private hospital in Mangaluru on Monday afternoon. He is survived by his wife Blossom Fernandes and a daughter and a son.

He was admitted to a private hospital in Mangaluru in July this year. He had a fall while doing his morning exercise on July 19. Though he did not take it seriously on that day, he went for the routine dialysis to a private hospital in Mangaluru the next day. . Since he complained of a headache, he was subjected to further tests. The tests revealed that he had suffered internal head injuries due to the fall.

As he became unconscious following the dialysis, he was admitted to the ICU in the hospital. He had also undergone a surgery at the private hospital in July. However, he breathed his last on Monday.

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Born to late Rouque Fernandes and Leonissa M Fernandes in Udupi on March 27 1941, he did his education in Cecilia’s Convent, Board High School and MGM College in Udupi. He was a member of the Udupi Municipal Council from 1972-76.

Close to Gandhi family

A close confidante of the Gandhi family – ranging from Indira Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi – he had held several positions in the Congress and in the previous Congress governments at the centre.

He was the Parliamentary Secretary to the then Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi from December 1984 to June 1985.

Fernandes was a member of the Lok Sabha from Udupi for five terms from 1980 to 1998, and the member of Rajya Sabha for four terms from 1998. He was serving his fourth term as Rajya Sabha member from July 1 2016.

He served as a minister in the UPA governments from 2004 to 2014. This included stints as Minister of State (independent charge) for Statistics and Programme Implementation (May 2004 to January 2006); Minister of State (independent charge) of the Youth Affairs and Sports and Minister of State (independent charge) of Overseas Indian Affairs (November 2005 to January 2006); Minister of State without portfolio (January 2006 to October 2006); Minister of State (independent charge) of Labour and Employment (October 2006 to March 2009); Minister of Road Transport and Highways (June 2013 to May 2014); and additional charge of Minister of Labour and Employment (December 2013 to May 2014).

He also served several positions in the Congress both at the state and central level. He was the President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) during 1986. Fernandes was the General Secretary of All India Congress Committee (AICC) in 1985 and 1996 onwards.

Yoga practitioner

Fernandes was also a regular yoga practitioner. Condoling the death of Fernandes, Sri Vishwaprasannatirtha Swamiji of Pejavar Math in Udupi said Fernandes had good knowledge of yoga, and had good relations with the Pejavara and other Maths in Udupi.

UT Khader, Member of Legislative Assembly from Mangaluru and former Karnataka Minister, said he is pained by the death of Oscar Fernandes. The departed leader was a mentor to him, he said.

Various top leaders of the Congress and BJP had visited the family of Fernandes after he was admitted to the hospital in July.

Published on September 13, 2021

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