Mangaluru/New Delhi, Sept 13 (UNI): Senior Congress leader, former Union Minister and a close aide of the Gandhi family, Oscar Fernandes breathed his last here on Monday. He was 80.
Fernandes was undergoing treatment in the ICU of Yenepoya Hospital in the city since July after he suffered injuries in an accidental fall. He is survived by his wife Blossom Fernandes and two children.
Oscar was born on March 27, 1941, to Roque and Leonissa Fernandes. His mother was the first women’s bench magistrate of undivided Dakshin Kannada district.
Before joining politics, Oscar served in LIC for a brief period and tried his luck by running an enterprise at Manipal.
Oscar was very close to AICC leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and had served as Rajiv Gandhi’s Parliament Secretary.
In the Manmohan Singh cabinet, he held transport and labour portfolios and worked as AICC’s Central Election Authority Chairman.
Oscar was twice KPCC president in the 1980s. He climbed up the ladder at the national level by winning the seventh Lok Sabha election from Udupi constituency. For the next four consecutive Lok Sabha elections, Oscar won from the same seat. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1998 and re-elected in 2004.
Oscar also served as union minister from 2004 to 2009, holding various portfolios, including statistics, youth and sports affairs, NRI affairs, among others.
Having a penchant for various sports, Oscar was a Kuchipudi dancer and able musical instrument player. He was good at playing the harmonium, keyboard and tabla, besides he also composed poems and was a singer too.
Oscar had his education at St Cecily’s Convent School, at Board High school and in MGM College, Udupi.
Condolences poured in from various quarters for him on Monday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet wrote, “Saddened by the demise of Rajya Sabha MP Shri Oscar Fernandes Ji. In this sad hour, my thoughts and prayers are with his family and well-wishers. May his soul rest in peace.”
“My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Shri Oscar Fernandes Ji. It is a personal loss for me. He was a guide and mentor to many of us in the Congress Party,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in his condolence message.
Gandhi said he will be missed and fondly remembered for his contributions.
Senior leader of Communist Party of India (Marxist), Sitaram Yechury also condoled his death. “Shocked to hear the news about the demise of Shri Oscar Fernandes. We were colleagues in the Rajya Sabha for more than a decade. Deepest condolences,” said Yechury.