Cho Ramaswamy, a veteran thespian, writer and former parliamentarian who was the first to propose Narendra Modi as a prime ministerial candidate, passed away after a heart attack in Chennai on Wednesday morning. He was 82.
Ramaswamy’s personal physician Vijayabhaskar said the former Rajya Sabha member passed away at around 3.58 am at Apollo hospital, where former chief minister J Jayalalithaa battled for life for over two months and lost.
Cho suffered a massive heart attack at 3.30 am. and efforts to revive him failed, said Raghurajan, one of his relatives at the hospital. His body has been taken to his residence where it is kept for people to pay homage, he said.
Cho is survived by wife, son and daughter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise in a series of tweets. He referred to Cho as a “dear friend” and described him as a multidimensional personality, towering intellectual and great nationalist.
Cho Ramaswamy was a multidimensional personality, towering intellectual, great nationalist & fearless voice who was respected and admired.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 7, 2016
Above all, Cho Ramaswamy was a dear friend. I have been to his annual readers meeting which were an unprecedented editor reader interface.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 7, 2016
Cho Ramaswamy was insightful, frank & brilliant. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family & countless readers of Thuglak.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 7, 2016
The PM also shared a video on his Twitter page where Ramaswamy had called him a “Merchant of Death”.
The feisty Cho Ramaswamy introduces me as the 'Merchant of Death.' Do watch this memorable interaction. https://t.co/2FsF64sVvH— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 7, 2016
Cho, who represented the BJP in the Upper House, was the first person who mooted the idea that Modi should be the prime ministerial candidate, at a time when its tallest leader LK Advani was thought to be the frontrunner for the candidacy.
A fearless critic of the government and a political commentator, he was also sought after by Jayalalithaa and had personal rapport with all the top politicians of the country cutting across the political spectrum, including former prime minister Indira Gandhi, BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani, M Karunanidhi among others.
Despite his sharp and acerbic criticism, his relations were intact with all political parties and politicians. Despite his strong opposition to the DMK regime in 2010, Cho was friendly with Karunanidhi.
In the 1996 assembly polls, Cho was instrumental in roping in film actor Rajinikanth to bless the DMK, which was still smarting from its loss in 1991 to Jayalalithaa.
In 2010, it was Cho who brought around Jayalalithaa and Captain Vijayakanth together, leading to formation of a formidable team that decimated the DMK.
Karunanidhi’s party ended up behind DMDK of Captain Vijayakanth in that polls.
PM Modi and Jayalalithaa were among the VIPs who called on Cho at the hospital in August last year when he was seriously ill.