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Obituary 2018: Leaders the Indian politics lost this year

From Dravidian patriarch M Karunanidhi to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to 10-time Parliamentarian Somnath Chatterjee, the Indian politics lost many significant names this year.

Ayanti Bera | New Delhi | Updated :


Obituary 2018: A number of prominent Indian politicians died in 2018. From Dravidian patriarch M Karunanidhi to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to 10-time Parliamentarian Somnath Chatterjee, the Indian politics lost many significant names this year.

Here is a list of the obituaries read out through the year:

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (25 December 1924 – 16 August 2018)

The ‘Gentle Giant’ of Indian politics, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was one of the founding members of erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangha. After the party got dissolved, he restructured it into the Bharatiya Janata Party. Vajpayee was the Minister of External Affairs in Morarji Desai’s cabinet. Having sworn in as the Prime Minister thrice, he could serve for a full term only once — from 1999-2004. His Cabinet survived only for a few days when he was elected PM for the first time. On the second occasion, it lasted a few months. The BJP veteran had a long political career from the mid-1960s to 2005 when he announced his voluntary retirement from active politics. Not keeping well for a long time, Vajpayee breathed his last at AIIMS in New Delhi on 16 August 2018.

M Karunanidhi, DMK patriarch and former Tamil Nadu CM (3 June 1924 – 7 August 2018)

DMK chief and five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Muthuvel Karunanidhi had been the dominating patriarch of Dravidian politics for nearly six decades. Popularly known as ‘Kalaignar’, he was a cult figure in Tamil Nadu’s political scenario not only because of his political status but also because of the numerous film scripts that he wrote. Since 1972, after the formation of his rival party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or AIADMK helmed by MG Ramachandran and later Jayalalithaa, the two parties have alternatively formed ministries in Tamil Nadu till 2016 when AIDMK was elected for a second term. Karunanidhi passed away on 7 August after contracting a urinary tract infection. He was 94. To mark his 80 long and strong years in politics, the TN government announced a national holiday on 8 August.

Somnath Chatterjee, former MP and CPI leader (25 July 1929 – 13 August 2018)

Former Lok Sabha speaker and 10-time Parliamentarian, Somnath Chatterjee had a key role to play in the emergence and encouragement of private investments in Bengal’s industrial scenario under Jyoti Basu as the Chief Minister. He had been the chairman of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation for a decade where he further helped Bengal’s transition towards private investment. As a speaker of Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009 when Manmohan Singh was the PM, he brought about various changes like discontinuing the practice of paying for toiletries and tea from the national exchequer, and strived to increase the transparency of Parliament functioning by transforming DD Lok Sabha into Lok Sabha TV. He passed away on 13 August after suffering a heart attack.

Baishnab Charan Parida, former BJD MP (15 February 1941 – 22 November 2018)

A former Parliamentarian from Odisha, Baishnab Charan Parida was a prominent member of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) who had served in the Rajya Sabha from 2010 to 2016. Starting his career with the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 1960, Parida had been with a few parties for brief periods, before joining the BJD in 2008. A writer and social activist, he fought for the promotion of Odiya language and its use in the official work. Parida played a pivotal role in the implementation of Odisha Official Language Act, 1954. He founded the Odiya Bhasha Suraksha Samiti, an organisation fighting for the enhancement of Odiya language. Parida passed away in Bhubaneswar on the morning of 22 November, after a prolonged illness. He was 77.

ND Tiwari,  former CM of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand (18 October 1925 – 18 October 2018)

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh three times and the only CM of Uttarakhand who completed a full term, Narayan Dutt Tiwari had been with the Congress for most of his life, having joined the party in the 1960s, though he had started his political career with the erstwhile Praja Socialist Party. He started his own political party All India Indira Congress (Tiwari) before finally announcing his support for the BJP in 2017. He also served as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh in 2007. Tiwari had a long political career amidst various controversies till he passed away on 18 October, 2018, which happened to be his 93rd birthday, after a prolonged illness.

Balramji Dass Tandon, senior BJP leader (1 November 1927 – 14 August 2018)

Former Chhattisgarh governor and six-time MLA from Punjab, Balramji Dass Tandon held various posts in his 65 years in Indian politics. He was one of the founding members of Jan Sangh that is now the BJP. He served as a cabinet minister twice under Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He had also been the Deputy CM in Gurnam Singh’s cabinet. Tandon had served as the Punjab BJP president. He was recently in news after refusing to accept the hike in allowances of governors and filed an application to continue receiving salary as per the old structure. He passed away on 14 August in Raipur, after a cardiac arrest.

Urmila Singh, former governor, Himachal Pradesh (6 August 1946 – May 29 2018 

Congress leader and former Himachal Pradesh governor Urmila Singh had also served as the chairman of National Scheduled Tribes Commission (NCTC). She belonged to a family of freedom fighters and served as a minister in the Madhya Pradesh government. She headed the state Congress unit of MP. In January this year, she contracted pneumonia and her condition kept deteriorating. Having been on life support for a long time, she breathed her last on 29 May at the age of 71.

Madan Lal Khurana, former Delhi chief minister (15 October 1936 – 27 October 2018)

The Chief Minister of Delhi from 1993 to his abrupt resignation in 1996, Madan Lal Khurana was one of the founding members of Jan Sangh that later transformed into Bharatiya Janata Party in 1980. Revered as “Dilli-ka-sher”, he worked enormously to establish BJP in the capital in the Congress era. Khurana had served as a Union minister in the Vajpayee cabinet and also as the Governor of Rajasthan for a short while. His anti-party statements often made news, and he had been away from mainstream politics since the mid-2000s. The BJP veteran passed away on October 27 after suffering from chest infection for a long time.

Ananth Kumar, BJP minister in the NDA government (22 July 1959 – 12 November 2018)

Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers and Parliamentary Affairs in the Narendra Modi cabinet, Ananth Kumar played a pivotal role in the success of BJP in Karnataka in the 2004 elections. After being appointed as the president of the state unit of BJP in Karnataka in 2003, he led the party to emerge as the single largest in Karnataka for the first time, bringing to power a BJP-led NDA government. Kumar was also the youngest minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. He had been elected as MP from Bengaluru South constituency for five straight terms. Around mid-2018, he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. After spending a considerable time under treatment in London, Kumar breathed his last on 12 November 2018 at a private hospital in Bengaluru.


Other notable political figures who passed away this year were former MP and Rajmata of Marwar Krishna Kumari, former Chhattisgarh finance minister Ramachandra Singhdeo, senior Congress leader and former PM Indira Gandhi’s aide RK Dhawan and Congress leader and former Union minister Gurudas Kamat.