Gurudas Kamat | Lawyer-turned-politician and 5-term Lok Sabha MP

Kamat entered into politics as a student leader in 1972. He contested his first Lok Sabha election in 1984 from Mumbai North East constituency and defeated sitting MP Subramaniam Swamy and BJP’s Pramod Mahajan

Gurudas Kamat | Lawyer-turned-politician and 5-term Lok Sabha MP

Gurudas Kamat passed away in a Delhi hospital on August 22 after a cardiac arrest. (Photo: Twitter/@KamatGurudas)

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Gurudas Kamat passed away on Wednesday morning at a hospital in New Delhi. He was 63. In Delhi to meet Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel, Kamat had been taken to Primus hospital in Chanakyapuri after he suffered a cardiac arrest.

In his last tweet, posted late Tuesday evening, Kamat had greeted people on the occasion of Eid-al-Adha. He was scheduled to return to Mumbai Wednesday evening for Eid celebrations.

Kamat is survived by his wife Maharookh Kamat, who he married in 1981, and son Sunil Kamat, a doctor.


READ | Former Union minister Gurudas Kamat dies at 63 in Delhi hospital

Kamat was born on October 5, 1954, in Mumbai. After schooling from Holy Cross School in Kurla, he joined the Podar College of Commerce and Economics in Matunga where he had been awarded the Prof. Welingkar Trophy in 1976 for being the “Most Outstanding Student”. Kamat was active in sports too and had represented his school and college in cricket, badminton and table tennis.

After graduation, Kamat pursued law from the Government Law College in Mumbai.

Gurudas Kamat
Gurudas Kamat with NSUI and Youth Congress members at a weekly Jan Sampark programme in August 2018. (Photo: Twitter/@KamatGurudas)


Not coming from a political family, Kamat’s entry into politics happened as a student leader. In 1972, he joined the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress party, while studying in Podar College. In 1976, he was appointed the Mumbai NSUI chief.

Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi appointed Kamat as the president of Indian Youth Congress in 1987. He later became president of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee.

Considered a leader who could mobilise masses, Kamat entered electoral politics in December 1984 when he contested the Lok Sabha election from Mumbai North East constituency. He won the seat defeating the then sitting MP Subramaniam Swamy and Pramod Mahajan of the BJP. His winning streak continued as he defeated BJP’s Jaywantiben Mehta in 1991, Mahajan again in 1998, BJP’s Kirit Somaiya in 2004 and Gajanan Kirtikar of the Shiv Sena in 2009.

In 1994, he was part of the four-member delegation that represented India at the United Nations in New York City along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Inder Kumar Gujral and Farooq Abdullah. In 2012, Kamat represented former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the UN Convention at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

READ | Gurudas Kamat’s death massive blow to Congress: Rahul Gandhi

From 2009 to 2011, the five-term Lok Sabha MP served in the UPA 2 government as a minister of state in the Home Affairs and Communications and Information Technology ministries. He was the AICC general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and also a member of the party’s highest decision-making body.

Following a cabinet reshuffle in 2011, when he was made MoS Drinking Water and Sanitation, Kamat resigned from the council of ministers citing personal reasons. According to reports, however, he was upset at not being given a cabinet rank despite his seniority.

In 2016, amid reports that he was being sidelined in the Mumbai Congress unit, Gurudas Kamat resigned from the party saying he was retiring from politics.

Gurudas Kamat
Gurudas Kamat at an event in Mumbai to mark the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on August 20, 2018. (Photo: Twitter/@KamatGurudas)


“For several months now, I have felt I need to take a backseat to enable others to get the opportunity. I met Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) about 10 days ago and expressed a desire to resign. Subsequently, I sent letters to both her and Rahulji that I would like to exit. Since there was no reply, I have formally informed that I would like to retire from politics. I would like to thank each one of you for all the cooperation I received and wish the best to the party leadership and each one of you,” read Kamat’s text message circulated among party workers then.

He had however withdrawn his resignation later. Kamat was made the party general secretary in charge of Gujarat and Rajasthan affairs. However, in April 2017, Congress president Sonia Gandhi replaced him with Gurudas Kamat when she changed the entire central team handling party matters in Gujarat, which went to Assembly elections in December 2017.

Kamat had then claimed this had been done on his request saying as he had written two letters dated February 3, and February 21 that year urging party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to relieve him of all posts. Sources in the Congress had however hinted that the decision to replace Kamat was taken after he publicly expressed the views of some MLAs who apparently wanted party leader Shankersinh Vaghela to be declared the CM candidate for Gujarat.

A day after the Gujarat decision, Kamat had requested Sonia Gandhi to relieve him of the responsibilities of Rajasthan too.

“I had written to you ‘my heart is not in the job any more.’ Please relieve me from Rajasthan and other positions also,” he said in a statement quoting a letter he wrote to the then AICC chief.

The veteran Congressman had had problems within the Maharashtra Congress since its debacle in the Mumbai civic polls. He was not happy with the Congress list of candidates for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections, which was announced on February 3, the day he said he wrote to Rahul Gandhi to relieve him of his party duties.

Prior to the BMC polls, Kamat had expressed grouse against the “working style” of Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam. He had said Nirupam was “driving out” second generation Congress leaders, though the latter had denied the charges.

Kamat had withdrawn himself from campaigning, and at one point of time there were even rumours that Kamat was planning to join the BJP, though he had dismissed them.

Kamat had been since working with party workers in the state and could be seen with them at different gatherings. He also held a Jan Sampark programme every week where he would meet NSUI and Youth Congress members.

“Shocked … My leader Gurudas Kamat is no more . It is my personal loss as well as unrepairable loss of Congress party,” tweeted Satyajeet Tambe Patil, vice-president of the Maharashtra Youth Congress.