Prez Kovind, PM Modi condole Veerendra Kumar's death

Prez Kovind, PM Modi condole Veerendra Kumar's death

 Kerala Transport Minister NK Sasheendran pays last respects to MP Veerendra Kumar in Kozhikode, Friday, May 29, 2020. Veerendra Kumar, a former Union minister and member of PTI's Board of Directors, died on Thursday following a cardiac arrest. (PTI Photo)

A host of leaders led by President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday condoled the death of M P Veerendra Kumar, Rajya Sabha member and Managing Director of Malayalam daily 'Mathrubhumi', who passed away late last night.

State Ministers, the general public and a slew of journalists paid floral tributes to Kumar's mortal remains at Kozhikode before his body was taken to his native Wayanad district for funeral this evening.

Veerendra Kumar had served thrice as the Chairman of Press Trust of India, and at the time of his death was one of the directors in the news agency's board, besides helming the popular Malayalam daily.

President Kovind on his twitter handle said, "Sad to hear of the passing of Shri M.P. Veerendra Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP and former Union Minister. A staunch socialist, he enriched the field of journalism and literature by leading the influential Malayalam newspaper, Mathrubhumi. Condolences to his family and well-wishers."

Vice President M Venkiah Naidu said, "He was a multifaceted personality. The veteran leader was also an accomplished journalist and a prolific writer."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "Anguished by the passing away of Rajya Sabha MP Shri M.P. Veerendra Kumar Ji. He distinguished himself as an effective legislator and Parliamentarian. He believed in giving voice to the poor and underprivileged. Condolences to his family and well wishers. Om Shanti."

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, in his tributes said, "The mark of his versatility & commitment to values are visible in diverse areas like Media management & journalism. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace."

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan described the 83-year-old leader's demise as a big loss to democratic and secular movements. "Until his last breath, he relentlessly fought communalism and divisive politics. Even as he championed development, Veerendra Kumar was a front-line environmentalist as well. I share this moment of deep grief with his relatives and colleagues," Vijayan wrote in a Facebook post.

Former Prime Minister Deve Gowda and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi were among the leaders who condoled the death of the member of the Rajya Sabha. A noted socialist leader in Kerala, Veerendra Kumar will be cremated at Kalpetta in the hill district of Kerala this evening.

Kerala Transport minister A K Saseendran placed a wreath on behalf of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. State Ministers K Krishnankutty, Kadannappaly Ramachandran, MPs and MLas were among the prominent people who paid respects to Veerendra Kumar following social distancing norms.

The mortal remains were later taken to his ancestral home at Kalpetta in Wayanad district where the funeral will be held. A well known environmentalist, Veerendra Kumar resigned 48 hours after being appointed Power minister in the E K Nayanar cabinet in March 1987 after issuing his first order banning cutting of trees in the state's forests.

The socialist leader had contested the Lok Sabha election in 1991 from Kozhikode, but was defeated by K Muraleedharan. In 1996 and 2004, he won from the same constituency to the lower house of Parliament. In 2016-17, he was elected as Congress-led UDF's representative to the Rajya Sabha, while in 2018 he was elected to the Upper house as an independent candidate, supported by the Left parties.

He was Minister of State for Labour (Independent Charge) with additional charges as Minister of State, Urban Affairs and Employment (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs between 1997 and 98 in the I K Gujral Cabinet and was Minister of State for Finance in 1997 in the H D Deve Gowda Ministry.

Veerendra Kumar was in the forefront of the anti- globalisation and environmental movements and peoples struggle against exploitation of water and pollution,allegedly caused by a beverages company at Plachimada village in Palakkad district.

He had headed the Janata Dal(U) in Kerala for a long time before parting ways when its national president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar became an ally of the BJP-led NDA.

He later joined the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) led by Sharad Yadav. Veerendra Kumar was a recipient of various awards for his contributions to society and had also served as president of The Indian Newspaper Society between 2003 and 04.

A well known author, he had penned over 15 books, including "Ramante Dhukham", "BuddhanteChiri" and the Kendra Sahitiiya Akademi winning travelogue " Haimavathabhoovil".

He is survived by wife Usha, three daughters and son M V Shreyams Kumar, who is the joint Managing Director of The Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing Company. 

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox