Ex-Union Minister Gurudas Kamat dead, Congress stunned (Second Lead)

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Mumbai/New Delhi : Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Gurudas Kamat died in a private hospital in New Delhi following a massive heart attack on Wednesday, party officials said. He was 63.

Kamat is survived by his wife Maharookh and a son, Sunil, said a close family friend.

According to the friend, Kamat while having his morning tea at his New Delhi home, suddenly complained of severe chest pain.

He called out to his driver who rushed him to the Primus Hospital in Chanakyapuri where he is said to have died within minutes.

In a message, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) said it was saddened by Kamat's sudden demise.

"We have lost a family member and a distinguished leader who was widely admired," the AICC tweeted as top leaders from the capital and other states rushed to the hospital.

Respected across party lines, late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had picked Kamat as part of the four-member official delegation to the UN in 2003, along with former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.

In 2010, Kamat was nominated to represent former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the UN International Conference on Federalism in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The youthful and secular face of the party, Kamat, a five-time MP from Mumbai North-East Lok Sabha constituency, served as Union Minister of State for Home in 2009, but abruptly resigned in 2011, citing "personal reasons"

Later, he immersed in party affairs as the General Secretary but suddenly quit all posts last year, though he remained a staunch Congressman till the end.

In a condolence message, Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan said he "lost a great colleague".

State Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant said: "A very dynamic and renowned face of the Congress and a great leader Gurudas Kamat is no more."

Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar said he was "saddened and "lost a leader who knew the pulse of Mumbaikars and would always voice their concern in Parliament".

Normally hale and hearty, Kamat on Tuesday night tweeted his Bakri Eid greetings, saying: "Eid Mubarak to all my friends celebrating Eid-Al-Adha. May all your prayers be accepted. May peace, joy and happiness never depart from your lives and homes."

Incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) MP from Mumbai North-East Kirit Somaiya expressed shock over his political rival's demise.

"We have lost a gentleman politician, an MP always active for the betterment of Mumbai though we contested Lok Sabha elections against each other," Somaiya tweeted.