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Former Union Minister B Shankaranand passes away

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Former Union Minister and veteran Congress leader B Shankaranand died at a private hospital in Belgaum, Karnataka, today after suffering a cardiac arrest.

He was 84. He is survived by two sons and five daughters.

Mr Shankaranand, who was elected to the Lok Sabha eight times from the Chikodi reserved constituency in Karnataka, had served as a minister in the Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and P V Narasimha Rao governments.

He had also headed the Joint Parliamentary Committee that probed the Bofors gun scam.

Mr Shankaranand had been admitted to the hospital a couple of days ago for treatment of kidney problems.

His run of eight consecutive wins in Lok Sabha elections came to an end in the 1996 elections when he was defeated by a newcomer, Ratnamala Savanur.

Born on October 19, 1925, Mr Shankaranand was educated in Belgaum and Mumbai and had a B.A. and an LL.B. degree.

In a long political career, which began with a stint in the Belgaum Municipal Corporation, he served as General Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party and on several Parliamentary committees.

He was Deputy Minister for Parliamentary Affairs from May, 1971 to March, 1977. He handled Education, Health and Family Welfare from January, 1980 to October, 1980, and then Health and Family Welfare from October, 1980 to October, 1984.

After a stint as Union Water Resources Minister, he became the Chairman of the JPC on Bofors, an issue that had rocked the Rajiv Gandhi Government.

Later, he handled the portfolios of Law and Justice and Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Union Law and Justice Minister described Mr Shankaranand as a wonderful human being, a mentor for many leaders and an outstanding Parliamentarian.

"With his sharp intellect and exemplary knowledge of the Constitution, he played an exceptional role in the development of Karnataka and the Nation," he said in a condolence message.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Mr Shankaranand had worked tirelessly for the upliftment of the downtrodden and the underprivileged.

"In his death, the Congress Party lost a very senior Member and Karnataka a son of the soil," he added.

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