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Maharashtra agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar dies of heart attack

One of the seniormost ministers in the state cabinet, the 67-year-old BJP leader, called Bhausaheb in political circles, died at a Mumbai hospital on Thursday morning

mumbai Updated: Jun 01, 2018 00:54 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,Mumbai,Maharashtra agriculture minister
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that in Pandurang Fundkar’s death, “The state has lost a senior leader with apt knowledge in the field of agriculture and cooperation”.(HT FILE )

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Maharashtra’s agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar, 67, passed away in a Mumbai hospital early Thursday morning after a massive heart attack.

Fundkar was admitted to KJ Somaiya hospital in Sion on Wednesday afternoon after he complained of breathing difficulty. By evening, he seemed to have become better, but around midnight, he complained of severe chest pain. “The pain was persistent and he suffered a massive heart attack at 4.30am, and passed away,” said a government officer close to Fundkar, who did not wish to be identified.

Fundkar, one of the seniormost ministers in the state cabinet, was sworn in as agriculture minister in July 2016. He succeeded the berth vacated by Eknath Khadse, who had to resign in June 2016 over allegations of irregularity involving a land deal.

Expressing shock over the death of his colleague, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said: “The state has lost a senior leader with apt knowledge in the field of agriculture and cooperation. He shouldered many responsibilities in the organisational set-up, and made great contributions in taking the party to a greater height.”

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said, “The soft-spoken agriculture minister would take the suggestion and recommendations by the opposition on agriculture positively and treated them in the interest of the farmers.”

Known as Bhausaheb in political circles, Fundkar was elected to the state legislative assembly in 1978 and 1980, and was the state BJP president twice, from 1992-99 and 2000-03. From 2002-11, he was a member of the legislative council, the upper house of state legislature, where he was leader of opposition between 2005 and 2011.

Fundkar was active in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since childhood and in Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) during his college life. Later he was also elected as general secretary of Jansangh Yuva Aghadi in 1974.

He was elected Member of Parliament from Akola constituency in Vidarbha for three terms (in 1989,1991 and 1996). Despite being member of both the houses of state legislature for years he missed bagging cabinet berths in 1995 and 2014 when the BJP formed the state government. However, in 2016, he was sworn in as minister during the second reshuffle of the state cabinet.

Fundkar is survived by wife Sunita, two sons, Sagar and Akash, and daughter Vasundhara. Akash is an MLA from Khamgaon constituency in Maharashtra.

The funeral will be held at Fundkar’s hometown Khamgaon in Buldhana district at 11am on Friday.

First Published: May 31, 2018 10:45 IST