Tributes and condolences pour in for veteran Congress leader Oscar Fernandes

‘With his hard work, pleasant nature & popularity, he became one of the tallest leaders of Congress party from Karnataka,’ former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh said

 Oscar Fernandes (File photo)
Oscar Fernandes (File photo)
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NH Web Desk

Tributes and condolences poured in for veteran Congress leader Oscar Fernandes who passed away in Mangaluru on Monday.

“We are deeply saddened by the demise of Shri Oscar Fernandes ji, our heartfelt condolences to his family. A Congress stalwart, his vision for an inclusive India had a huge influence on the politics of our times. The Congress family will deeply miss his mentorship & guidance,” the official handle of Congress tweeted.

“I was deeply shocked & saddened to learn about the sudden & untimely demise of our beloved, Shri Oscar Fernandes today. With his hard work, pleasant nature & popularity, he became one of the tallest leaders of Congress party from Karnataka,” former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh said in a letter addressed to his wife, Blossom Fernandes.

Tributes and condolences pour in for veteran Congress leader Oscar Fernandes

Describing his death as a "personal loss", Congress leader Rahul Gandhi remembered him as a guide and mentor.

"My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Shri Oscar Fernandes Ji. It is a personal loss for me. He was a guide and mentor to many of us in the Congress party," Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter. "He will be missed and fondly remembered for his contributions," he added.

“Oscar Fernandes was one of the nicest of politicians and finest of human beings I have ever known. The staunchest of Congressmen, he started his political journey by defeating the redoubtable T.A. Pai in the 1980 Lok Sabha elections. Thereafter, he went from strength to strength in the Party organisation and in the government. He was a most committed and sensitive Union Minister of Labour and Employment during UPA-1, and paid special attention to the concerns of workers in the unorganised sector,” Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted.

“We had been very close and sat next to each other in the Rajya Sabha. Few years ago I had nudged him to speak in Tulu during a debate, when he burst into song which became quite a sensation. He had a wonderful sense of humour. He told me that when Rajiv Gandhi appointed him as his Parliamentary Secretary in early 1985, along with Arun Singh and Ahmed Patel, he had reminded the Prime Minister of the Bollywood hit Amar, Akbar, Antony!!” he added.

"Heartfelt condolences to Oscar ji’s family. You are in our hearts and prayers. He was one of the finest, most loyal soldiers of the Congress party, we will all miss him immensely," Priyanka Gandhi tweeted.

Congress Media Department head and General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said that a banyan tree of the Congress party has fallen. "Oscar Fernandes ji was a guide, mentor, and organization builder, who connected to the Congress workers & they loved him in return. A "banyan tree" of the Congress Party has fallen. There will perhaps never be anyone like him. Our heartfelt homage to an eternal Congressman", Surjewala said.

Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily condoled the death of Oscar Fernandes, saying the nation has lost a great leader.

"We have lost today one of the prominent leaders of the Congress party who served the party continuously for over five decades. He was loyal to the party and totally devoted to it. He worked together in the party from the district, state and the national level with me," Moily, who worked closely with Fernandes in Karnataka, said in a statement.

"For any party crisis, we always depended upon him and he was a crisis manager also. I have lost a personal friend, the nation has lost a great leader and the party has lost a devoted leader. My condolences to his family," he said.

“Death of Sh Oscar Fernandes is a personal loss to me. When I first met him in May of 1984 post my father’s Assasination he took me under his wing. RIP,” former Union minister Manish Tewari tweeted.

In a message, Bishop of Mangaluru diocese Peter Paul Saldanha said Fernandes played a pivotal role in Mangaluru and helped the coastal people during his political tenure, irrespective of caste, creed, and colour.

"We miss Oscar Fernandes, a good soul of our community, who served for the country representing the Mangalurean community,” the bishop said.

"The Catholic community in Mangaluru, along with priests, nuns and lay faithful are saddened by his demise. Condolences to his wife Blossom Oscar Fernandes, family members, and near and dear ones,” he added.

“Sad to learn that veteran parliamentarian Shri Oscar Fernandes is no more. He was a leader rooted to the ground and committed to the welfare of people. He will be deeply missed by all. Condolences to his family, friends and followers,” the official Twitter handle of President of India tweeted.

"Saddened by the demise of Rajya Sabha MP Shri Oscar Fernandes Ji. In this sad hour, my thoughts and prayers are with his family and well-wishers. May his soul rest in peace: PM," the PMO tweeted.

Many prominent Congress leaders of Karnataka, former chief minister Siddaramaiah and State Congress chairman D.K. Shivakumar, as well as Lok Sabha opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge had rushed to pay their respects to the Congress veteran after news of his death came.

SP President Akhilesh Yadav and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee also condoled his death.

Fernandes was a sitting member of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka. He had been a five-time Lok Sabha MP and a four-time Rajya Sabha member.

He had entered politics as a member of the Udupi Municipal Council and was elected to Lok Sabha for the first time in 1980, followed by wins from the same constituency in 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1996. He had been a Rajya Sabha member for four terms since 1998.

He had served as Union Minister for Labour and Employment from 2006 to 2009 and had held different portfolios, including NRI affairs, Statistics and Programme Implementation in the UPA-II government led by Manmohan Singh.

Fernandes was also the chairman of the central election authority of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and AICC general secretary in 1996. He was president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) in the late eighties. He also served as Parliament Secretary to Rajiv Gandhi.

He was born on March 27, 1941 to Roque Fernandes and Leonissa Fernandes. He had his education at St Cecily's convent school, Board high school and in MGM College, Udupi. Fernandes began his political career by getting elected to Udupi municipality in 1972.

He was hospitalised in July after he suffered a head injury due to a fall while practising yoga at his home. He had also undergone a surgery to remove a clot in his brain.

He died at a private hospital in Mangaluru on Monday.

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