Prominent Indian politician Ananth Kumar dies

A minister in India’s federal cabinet and a senior leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) HN Ananth Kumar, died on Monday, party leaders said.

BJP spokesman S Shantaram said that the six-term parliamentarian from Bangalore died at a cancer hospital in New Delhi, .

The 59-year-old had been minister for chemicals and fertilisers and for parliamentary affairs in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government since 2014.

“Ananth Kumar Ji was an able administrator, who handled many ministerial portfolios and was a great asset to the BJP organisation,” Modi said in a Twitter post.

Modi said “He will always be remembered for his good work”.

Kumar was the youngest minister when he held the civil aviation portfolio in the BJP-led coalition government headed by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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Kumar joined the Hindu nationalist BJP in 1987 and steadily rose in the ranks to become a member of the national leadership of the party which claims to be the largest in the world with a membership of over 100 million.

He was credited with playing a key role in the party’s growth from scratch in southern India and in its coming to power in Karnataka state for the first time in 2008.

The Karnataka government declared a public holiday on Monday and three days of state mourning.

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