Union Minister Suresh Angadi Dies Week after Being Hospitalised With Covid-19; PM, President Condole

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Union Minister of State for Railways and Karnataka BJP MP Suresh Angadi died on Wednesday a week after being hospitalised for coronavirus.

The 65-year-old passed away at around 8pm at Delhi's AIIMS trauma centre, which has been converted into a dedicated COVID-19 facility, said sources at the hospital.

A fourth-term MP from Belagavi, Angadi is the first Union minister to have died of coronavirus. At least six MLAs and three MPs have earlier succumbed to it. Former President Pranab Mukherjee, who died on August 31, was also diagnosed as Covid-19 positive.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the national flag will be flown at half-mast on Thursday in all government offices in Delhi where it is usually flown.

Angadi had tested positive for the infection two weeks ago on September 11. At the time however, he was asymptomatic and had said he was "doing fine". The 65-year old Lok Sabha MP from Belagavi constituency in Karnataka became seriously ill and was hospitalised a week ago. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind condoled the death, with the former describing Angadi as an "exceptional Karyakarta, who worked hard to make the party strong in Karnataka".

Born on June 1, 1955, in a Lingayat family to Somawwa and Channabasappa Angadi in Koppa village in Belagavi, Angadi graduated from SSS Samiti College of Commerce in the district. He did his law graduation from Raja Lakhamgouda Law College in Belagavi.

A businessman by profession, Angadi got a major break in his political career when he was appointed as BJP vice-president in Belagavi in 1996 and worked his way up in the party. He was elected MP in the Lok Sabha election in 2004 and again in 2009. He was elected for a third term in 2014 when the BJP came to power at the Centre and for a fourth term in the general election last year after which he was made Union Minister of State for Railways.

As the junior Railway Minister, Angadi was soft-spoken but stern while responding to media queries on various aspects of the national transporter's performance. He was instrumental in pushing through the long-pending Bengaluru suburban rail service. The Rs 15,990 crore project aims to connect 148.17 km of the city through four corridors and has a 2025 deadline.

Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda said Angadi was "like a younger brother" to him.

Karnataka opposition leader Siddaramaiah and state Congress president DK Shivakumar remembered Angadi as an MP who was always concerned about the development of the state. Ramesh Jarkiholi, Water Resources Minister and district in-charge minister of Belagavi, said they worked together for its development. "We held regular task force meetings during the pandemic," he said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah expressed grief and said Angadi will always be remembered for his selfless service to the nation and the BJP.

"Deeply pained to learn about the passing away of MoS Railways and senior BJP leader from Karnataka, Shri Suresh Angadi ji," Shah said in a tweet. "He will always be remembered for his selfless service to the nation and party. My deepest condolences are with his family."

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on the micro-blogging website, "Deeply anguished at the unfortunate demise of Suresh Angadi ji. He was like my brother. Words fall short to describe his commitment and dedication towards the people. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this hour of need."

Party chief JP Nadda and MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar also condoled the death. "Tragic terrible sad news of leader and minister Suresh Angadi passing away," he said in a tweet.

"He was a remarkable leader who dedicated all his life for organisation and went on to serve society with utmost diligence and compassion," said Nadda in a tweet.

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said Angadi was a popular leader who was elected four times in a row from Belagavi and "was instrumental in bringing many railway projects to the state".

(With inputs from PTI)