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Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, in coma since 2008, passes away at 72

Dasmunsi, who served as union Parliamentary Affairs Minister, suffered a stroke in 2008 which left him paralysed.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2017 16:20 IST
Hindustan Times
Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi,Dasmunsi passes away,Congress leader Priya Ranjuan Dasmunsi
Veteran Congress leader and former minister of information and broadcasting, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi passed away at 72. (KK Chawla/ HT Archives)

Congress leader and former Union minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, an influential politician from Bengal known for his oratorial skills, died on Monday at a hospital in Delhi. He was 72.

His wife, Deepa Dasmunsi, told HT that Dasmunsi was declared dead at 12.10 pm by doctors at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

Dasmunsi was in coma since 2008 after suffering a severe heart attack and stroke that left his left side totally paraylsed.

“We tried almost everything possible, I even took him to Germany for stem cell therapy but unfortunately that didn’t really work. The therapy was mainly aimed at improving his brain function but it wasn’t effective,” Deepa said.

Dasmunsi was brought to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on October 12, 2008, after he complained of breathlessness and severe chest pain. Doctors treating him had said that he suffered a heart attack on way to the hospital.

Doctors said he had suffered a complete left ventricular failure of the heart before he was admitted to AIIMS casualty. Dasmunsi, also a diabetic, suffered the heart attack the same year in July on way to Kolkata from Malda district in north West Bengal, after attending a Congress party meeting.

He was admitted in Calcutta’s Apollo Gleneagles hospital where he underwent angioplasty to unblock two blood vessels. After a week at AIIMS, he was shifted to Apollo Hospital and remained there for nearly a year, before being air-lifted to Germany.

Dasmunsi first entered Parliament in 1971. He served as the Union minister of parliamentary affairs and the minister of information and broadcasting from 2004 to 2008, during the first term of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.

He represented the Raiganj constituency in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha. After his hospitalisation, the Congress fielded his wife, Deepa Dasmunsi, from the constituency in 2009. In 2014, the Trinamool Congress roped in his brother Satyaranjan Dasmunsi to face-off against Deepa.

Dasmunsi also served as the President of the All India Football Federation for almost 20 years. Dasmunsi was the first Indian to serve as a match commissioner in a FIFA World Cup game.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “We will miss Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi ji. A brilliant political mind and a good human being. Bengal and the Congress party have lost a tall leader. Our thoughts are with Deepa ji today.”

Bengali leaders, cutting across party lines, recalled Dasmunsi in glowing terms.

“I feel like I have become an orphan. He was my political friend, philosopher and guide. In matters political, or personal, I used to seek his guidance on almost everything,” said Subrata Mukherjee, the senior most minister in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet.

CPI(M) MP and politburo member Md Salim said Dasmunsi was a master of the art of “cultivating personal relationships even with political opponents”.

“His death brings and end to an era of data-based and logic-based debates,” added, Salim, the present MP from Raiganj.Salim said that many residents of Raiganj were still fond of Dasmunsi.

Rajya Sabha MP and former Bengal Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said that Dasmunsi was extremely skilful as a crisis manager. “Whenever the party ’s was in some crisis, he emerged as a crisis manager. He was such a powerful speaker that the audience would believe whatever he said. I feel great pain today,” said Bhattacharya.

Besides his wife Deepa, a theatre worker, Dasmunsi is survived by his son Priyadeep.

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 13:27 IST