M.P. Veerendra Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP, and Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) leader, passed away in Kerala after a cardiac arrest on Thursday night.
The 83-year-old former Union Minister of State for Finance was also the Managing Director of the Mathrubhumi group of publications. He had been admitted to a private hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala, where he breathed his last.
Mr. Veerendra Kumar was born at Kalpetta, now in Wayanad district, to socialist leader and planter MK Padmaprabha Goudar and Marudevi Avva. He had his early education at Kalpetta and Kozhikde before getting a Masters degree in Philosophy from Vivekananda College, Madras, and an MBA from Cincinnati University, Ohio, U.S.A..
He had got a membership of the then Socialist Party from Jayprakash Narayan and had been an all-India treasurer of the Samyukta Socialist Party between 1968 and 1970. Later, he became part of the Janata Party and the Janata Dal.
Mr. Veerendra Kumar was jailed during the Emergency and his assets confiscated by the government. In 1987, he became an MLA and the Minister of Forests in the E.K. Nayanar Cabinet, but had to resign within 48 hours. His first order reportedly was against cutting forests. In 1996, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kozhikde and became a Union Minister of State for Finance and later Union Minister of State for Labour in the United Front governments led by HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral. He was elected to the Lok Sabha again in 2004. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha since April 2016.
Though Mr. Veerendra Kumar was part of the CPI(M)- led Left Democratic Front since its inception, he and his party switched sides and joined the Congress-led United Democratic Front after differences of opinion with the Left leadership in 2009. He came back to the LDF some time ago. He had been part of the Janata Dal (Secular), Janata Dal (United), Socialist Janata (Democratic) as well as the LJD at various times.
Mr. Veerendra Kumar became a director of the Mathrubhumi in the late 70s and took charge of its management by the mid 80s. He was associated with the Indian Newspaper Society as well as the Press Trust of India.
A prolific author, he had written books on subjects such as politics, philosophy and economics. He was also a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi award and the Kerala Sahitya Academy award. Mr. Veerendra Kumar had always been opposed to the neoliberal economic policies and fought for environmental protection.
He is survived by his wife Usha, daughters Asha, Nisha, and Jayalakshmi, and son MV Shreyams Kumar, a former MLA, and State president, LJD.