Veteran Congress leader Gurudas Kamat, also known as Mumbai Congress’ ‘angry man’, breathed his last at the age of 63 on Wednesday morning in the national capital after suffering a cardiac arrest. The former Union minister, who has also served as the Maharashtra Congress president is survived by his wife Maharookh and son Dr. Sunil Kamat. The mortal remains of Kamat will be cremated on Thursday morning in Mumbai.
As per the reports from sources, Kamat was rushed to the Primus Hospital in Chanakyapuri by his driver after he complained of severe chest pain and breathlessness while having his morning tea but he is said to have succumbed on the way. The former minister was in Delhi to meet Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel and his return to Mumbai was scheduled on Wednesday evening for the Eid celebrations. UPA chairperson and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi rushed to the hospital and paid her last respect soon after the reports of Kamat’s death came in.
Various Congress members also condoled Gurudas Kamat’s death. Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam grieved, “The Congress family is saddened with the sudden demise of Gurudas Kamat. The party is standing by his family. His contribution to the Mumbai Congress was exceptional and after him, there will be a void in that party that cannot be filled by anyone.”
A five-time MP from Mumbai North-East Lok Sabha constituency, Kamat had served the UPA 2 government as the Union Minister of State for Home and with the additional charge of Communications and Information Technology Ministry from 2009 to 2011. He resigned as the Minister in July 2011.
A night before his untimely demise, Kamat had tweeted his Bakri Eid greetings on Twitter. He wrote, “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.”
Former Maharashtra chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, “I have known Kamat since 20-25 years during his days in Maharashtra Youth Congress. He has worked hard for the party and became a respected leader. I remember, during my chief ministerial tenure, Kamat organised a rally for Sonia Gandhi at Shivaji Park in Dadar and that turned out to be a huge success. He willingly took retirement from the party posts, though the party leadership never wanted to let him go.”
Mourning the demise, the leaders irrespective of the political parties described the passing away of the seasoned leader as ‘an irreparable loss for the country’.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter and expressed his condolences saying, “The sudden passing away of senior leader Gurudas Kamat ji, is a massive blow to the Congress family. Gurudas ji helped build the Congress party in Mumbai & was greatly respected & admired by all. My condolences to his family in their time of grief. May his soul rest in peace.”
“Sad to hear about demise of Sri Gurudas Kamat ji. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. May his soul rest in peace,” Union Minister Nitin Gadkari tweeted.
Born on October 5, 1954, senior Congress leader Kamat hailed from Kurla in Mumbai. Being a Commerce graduate from the RA Podar College in Mumbai and with a law degree from the Government Law College in Mumbai, Gurudas Kamat was an advocate by profession. He started his political career as a student leader in 1972. He was later appointed as the General Secretary of All India Congress Committee and given the charge of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and was also appointed as a member of the Congress Working Committee.
NCP MLC Vidya Chavan expressed her condolences saying, “It is a very shocking and saddening to know early in the morning that a great leader like Gurudas Kamat is no more! Despite belonging to Congress, he always maintained good relations with other party members. It is unfortunate to lose such a great leader.”
Besides holding the post of the president of Maharashtra Pradesh Youth Congress, Gurudas Kamat has also worked as the Mumbai Congress chief under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. In 2011, he resigned from the Manmohan Singh cabinet in a fit of rage after Congress inducted Milind Deora, son of Kamat’s arch-rival Murli Deora, in the Union cabinet.
In 2017, Kamat resigned from all the positions that he held at the Indian National Congress. In his resignation letter, he expressed his wish ‘to take a backseat to enable others to get the opportunity’; although, there are reports of him being sidelined in the Mumbai Congress unit.
Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Anant Gadgil mourned, “He was a true Congressman and a loyalist who never left the party’s side. We have worked together in the Youth Congress. It is a great loss for us. He started his political journey from the grassroot level and was a dynamic mass leader. The forthcoming ‘Jan Sangharsh Yatra’ will feel a big gap after the demise of Kamat.”
The veteran face of Congress contested and won the Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai North East Parliamentary Constituency in December 1984 by utterly defeating the then sitting MP Subramaniam Swamy and Pramod Mahajan of the BJP. He also defeated BJP’s Jaywantiben Mehta in 1991 and again Mahajan in 1998. Further, in 2004, he defeated BJP’s Kirit Somaiya and, in 2009, Gajanan Kirtikar of the Shiv Sena.
Maharashtra BJP leader Madhu Chavan expressed, “Veteran leader Gurudas Kamat was a broadminded person. He was always friendly with other party members and a real Congress activist. Mumbai Congress was really grateful to have a president and organiser like Kamat.”
Being a powerful orator, a well-known organiser, and a leader committed to the masses, Kamat had a strong network with the party workers and he never failed to show his dedication to build the Congress in Mumbai. With his relentless efforts towards the development of the island city and the state in general, followers remember Gurudas Kamat as ‘a leader who always stood up for the underprivileged and helpless masses’. With a strong influence in the eastern and western suburbs of the city, he played a remarkable role to gear up the Congress workers ahead of the 2004 Lok Sabha election and following that the Congress-NCP alliance prevailed in all six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai that year.
However, political experts and Congress workers at large believe that the absence of such a powerful leader with a strong grasp over socio-political issues will impact the upcoming “Jan Sangharsh Yatra” — a movement organised by the party in the western Maharashtra that would begin from Kolhapur on August 31 and culminate at Pune on September 7 and would cover Sangli, Satara, and Solapur in between highlighting the misrule of the BJP-led government at the Centre and the state.
Former Congress MLA Baba Siddique said, “Gurudas Kamat was the biggest voice for Congress. The demise of such a big leader has created a vacuum as he was an inspiration to many. Not having him by our side will definitely make a difference.”
Another Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant expressed his anguish saying, “We lost a dynamic personality and an active leader. He was an inspiration for many youth leaders and has worked really hard for the Congress. I had received several opportunities to meet him — it was always encouraging and lively to work around him.” “His demise was untimely and is a great loss for the party but I don’t think it will make any difference in Congress’s upcoming endeavours,” he added.