Former Union Minister and veteran Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi breathed his last at a private hospital here on Monday, nine years after suffering brain-stroke that pushed him into a coma.
Priyoda, as he was popularly known, passed away at 72 with his wife - a former union minister - Deepa Dasmunshi and son Priyadeep at his bedside.
A consummate politician and key trouble-shooter for the UPA government in its first term, Dasmunshi handled portfolios such as Parliamentary Affairs, Water Resources and Information and Broadcasting with elan.
"He died at 12.10 p.m. today (Monday). He had been critically ill for the past one month and unfortunately succumbed to his illness," Apollo Hospital said in a statement.
Dasmunshi had suffered brain stroke on October 12, 2008, and was rushed to AIIMS and was later shifted to the Apollo Hospital. The stroke had left him paralyzed and unable to speak.
All his basic functions â€“ breathing, blood pressure, sleep-wake cycle were stable but he was not aware of his surroundings.
He was also taken to Germany for stem cell treatment â€“ mainly for the brain treatment, which had been damaged after the stroke had led to the loss of blood supply causing irreversible damage.
"Despite his prolonged illness, he remained popular in the imagination of his people. His death is an irreparable loss to the Congress party and the country," Congress President Sonia Gandhi said in a statement.
Dasmunshi's mortal remains were brought to the AICC headquarters where top Congress leaders including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi bid him a final farewell.
"We will miss Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi ji. A brilliant political mind and a good human being. Bengal and the Congress party have lost a tall leader. Our thoughts are with Deepa ji today," Rahul Gandhi said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed Dasmunshi as a "popular leader with rich political and administrative experience".
Former President Pranab Mukherjee said he was "deeply saddened" at Dasmunshi's death. "His loss will be felt forever," he said.
An avid footballer, Dasmushi was the President of the All India Football Federation for 20 years. He also had the rare distinction of being the first Indian to be the match commissioner in a FIFA World Cup game at the group stage playoff between Croatia and Australia in 2006.
A five-term Lok Sabha member, Dasmunshi represented South Calcutta, Howrah, and Raiganj in the lower house of the parliament. He began his political career with the Indian Youth Congress before entering Parliament in 1971. He was the President of the Youth Congress from 1970-71.