One of Kerala's tallest socialist leaders M.P. Veerendra Kumar passed away at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, said family sources. He was 83.
Veerendra Kumar, a sitting Rajya Sabha member, succumbed to a cardiac arrest.
His last political appearance was when he took part in the meeting, via video conference, called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss Covid 19 issues with all lawmakers from Kerala two days back.
Member of the Loktantrik Janata Dal and President of its Kerala state unit, Veerendra Kumar was also the Managing Director of the second-largest circulated Malayalam daily 'Mathrubhumi'.
A voracious reader and also an award-winning writer, he was a highly respected politician not just in Kerala but also in Delhi.
He was in the Kerala Assembly from 1987-1991 and was sworn in as Forest Minister in the cabinet of Left Democratic Front leader E.K. Nayanar but resigned after five days due to differences in his party.
He later contested the Lok Sabha polls and won the Kozhikode Lok Sabha seat in 1996 and became Union Minister of State for Finance and later of Parliamentary Affairs from 1997 to 1998.
Winning the Lok Sabha polls again in 2004, Veerendra Kumar and his then party Janata Dal-United remained part of the LDF till 2009, but shifted to the Congress-led UDF camp after he was denied a chance to recontest the Kozhikode LS seat in the general elections that year.
A nominee of his party was given a Cabinet post when the Oommen Chandy-led UDF government assumed office in 2011.
Veerendra Kumar lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by over one lakh votes and since then he was unhappy with the UDF. However, the UDF kept him happy by offering him a Rajya Sabha seat in 2016 and when he had decided to quit it late next year, he put in his resignation from the Upper House.
Later, he rejoined the CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front, who allowed him to contest the Rajya Sabha polls and he became a member again in 2018.
Former Defence Minister A.K. Antony said he has lost a close friend and a "teacher".
"When I was the President of the Kerala Students Union in 1964, I met him first and thus began a long journey with him, even though we belonged to different parties. It was just two days back I spoke to him and he looked cheerful. Now the reality is he is no more, I have lost a close friend," said Antony.
Chandy said that Veerendra Kumar was a multifaceted personality and excelled in whatever roles he played.
"He had several caps and in every field he was a shining star and was a hugely successful person.. We, in our political journey, at times were together and at times, we were in the opposite camps, but I had the highest regards for him always," he added.
Veerendra Kmuar's son M.P.Shreyams Kumar, a former two-time legislator, is the joint Managing Director of the Mathrubhumi Group.
Kumar hailed from the hilly district of Wayanad and was a Jain by religion.