R Kanagaraj, the sitting All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) legislator from Sulur, passed away on Thursday morning following a massive heart attack.
According to reports, the 64-year-old Kanagaraj was reading the newspaper at his home when he collapsed and died.
His death brings the number of vacant seats in the Tamil Nadu assembly to 22. He is also the fifth legislator of the current TN Assembly to die since May 2016. Others include former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and former Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) supremo M Karunanidhi.
Kanagaraj’s death also brings down the AIADMK tally in the house to 114, including the Speaker.
According to The News Minute, Kanagaraj sided with Edappadi K Palaniswami when the AIADMK split after Jayalalithaa’s death. He was also caught in a TV sting operation on MLAs who were talking about being offered money and gold to join Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala’s faction in February 2017 following the rebellion in the party.
But he was also among the first MLAs to urge Palaniswami, O Panneerselvam and TTV Dhinakaran to unite for the sake of the party.
Kanagaraj is survived by his wife, a son and daughter. Sulur is part of Coimbatore district.
Chief Minister Palaniswami and several other ministers are expected to pay their last respects to Kanagaraj at Coimbatore.
The Election Commission has announced by-elections for 18 Assembly constituencies of Tamil Nadu on 18 April along with the Lok Sabha polls.