Minister V S Acharya passes away

Higher Education Minister collapses during a function

Senior BJP leader and Higher Education Minister V S Acharya, 72, died in Bangalore on Tuesday following a massive cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife, four sons and a daughter.

 Acharya, who was not keeping well for some time, collapsed during a function and was rushed to hospital where he was declared dead around 1 pm. In his death, the State BJP lost a senior leader who had a clean image in public life for nearly four decades. His in-depth knowledge of various issues had helped the government in administrative matters.

His sudden death has jolted the ruling BJP, which is facing a series of public humiliation due to scams and scandals. Acharya was considered as the conscience keeper of the party. He had never embarrassed the party through his actions or words. 

A member of the Legislative Council, Acharya also held the portfolios of Planning and Statistics, Information Technology and Biotechnology. A registered medical practitioner, Acharya, born on July 6, 1939, began his political career in the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh and was president of the Udupi Municipal Council from 1968 to 1976. He also served as Home Minister in the B S Yeddyurappa ministry. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1983.

The State government had declared half-a-day holiday for Tuesday in Bangalore, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts as a mark of respect to the departed leader. The State is also observing a three-day mourning from Tuesday. The State Cabinet, which met for a brief time, came out with a black border gazette notifying the death of the minister. The Cabinet’s strength has now come down to 23. 

The mortal remains of Acharya were kept at his Race Course Road official residence in Bangalore and was later flown to Udupi, his home town, by a special flight in the evening. The cremation took place with full state honours at Beedinagudde.

Senior BJP leader L K Advani visited Acharya’s house before proceeding to attend the funeral.

Acharya, though unwell for sometime, kept himself busy by attending to routine work. Even before breathing his last, he was attending a seminar. He had flown from Mangalore to Bangalore on Tuesday morning to attend a function organised by the Karnataka State Government College Principals’ Forum. He drove straight from the airport to the function around 12:30 pm. While he was about to step on to the dais, he wavered briefly. His hosts helped him on to a seat in the front row. Acharya was offered coffee, which he accepted, but soon collapsed.

Acharya’s aides and the hosts rushed the minister to Mallige Hospital on Crescent Road where he was declared brought dead. As the news of Acharya’s demise spread, well-wishers and associates started arriving in the hospital. A teary-eyed Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda described Acharya as his “political guru.” He was inconsolable.
At Acharya’s official residence, hundreds paid their last tributes. Members of Acharya’s family were in Udupi. There were no close relatives present in Bangalore when the end came. Of his four sons, two are doctors in Manipal and two have settled abroad. His daughter is also settled abroad.

 A 21-gun salute was given to Acharya before his body was placed in an ambulance to be airlifted to Mangalore.

Acharya, who had no enemies as such in politics, was remembered by his well-wishers as a simple, dedicated public servant who never indulged in petty politics. He had never allowed his family to interfere in his work. Ganesh Karnic, MLC, recalling his association with Acharya, said: “He was always accessible and ready to help people. His was a love marriage. It is unfortunate that he departed his wife Shantha on Valentine’s Day.” 
It was under Acharya’s leadership in Udupi that the Jan Sangh registered its first victory in any municipal election in South India, the MLC said.

Former minister Ramachandra Gowda, who has known Acharya for the last five decades, said Acharya “was offered the party president’s post in 1988, but he refused to accept it. After Yeddyurappa resigned, Acharya’s name did the rounds for the post of chief minister, which he again refused to accept,” Gowda said.

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