Former union minister and SP MP Beni Prasad Varma passed away here in Lucknow on Friday, following a prolonged illness. He was 79.

One of the founding members of the Samajwadi Party, Beni Prasad Varma was the tallest Kurmi leader in Uttar Pradesh and also a close friend of Samajwadi patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.

He served as a minister in Deve Gowda and IK Gujral Cabinets. In 2009, he joined the Congress and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Gonda constituency in Uttar Pradesh and became the steel minister in the Manmohan Singh government.

In 2016, he returned to the Samajwadi Party and became a Rajya Sabha member.

Though he had distanced himself from active party politics after Akhilesh Yadav took over the reins of the Samajwadi Party in 2017, he remained a much sought-after leader by the party’s rank and file.

His cremation will take place on Saturday in Barabanki which is his hometown.