Former Union Minister and Congress leader V Dhananjay Kumar passed away in Mangaluru on Monday due to multi-organ failure. V Dhananjay Kumar was admitted to the Unity Hospital in July 2018 as he was suffering from a kidney-related ailment. By December 2018, he had slipped into a coma and his condition worsened over the last few months. He was 67 years old and is survived by his wife Vanitha and two children Pavithra and Parinith.
His remains will be kept at his residence in Kadri in the city before being taken to his home town Venur.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy condoled Dhananjay Kumar's death and said he was "saddened by the death". "Former Union Minister Dhananjay Kumar passed away today (Monday). I am deeply saddened. He was served as a Union Minister and held multiple portfolios. May his soul rest in peace. May his family have the strength to bear the pain his death will bring," Kumaraswamy said.
A lawyer by profession, Venur Dhananjay Kumar secured his law degree in 1973 from a college in Udupi and practiced in Mangaluru. A firm believer of the RSS' Hindutva ideology, he soon became an integral part of the BJP’s youth wing. In the 1983 Karnataka Assembly Elections, he contested and won from Mangaluru constituency. The victory made him the first BJP MLA to win an election from Dakshina Kannada region.
In the 1991 Lok Sabha polls, he contested on a BJP ticket from Mangaluru Lok Sabha constituency. He was also one of the first few BJP MPs to be elected from south India, at a time when the Congress party's reach was at its peak. He went on to win Lok Sabha elections three more times from Mangaluru - in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
In 1996, Dhananjay Kumar was appointed as the Union Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism. In the NDA government, he was given the portfolio of Union Minister of State for Finance between 1999-2000 and was appointed as Union Minister of State for Textiles between 2000 and 2003.
During Yeddyurappa's tenure as chief minister between 2008 and 2011, Dhananjay became one of his closest confidantes. He was known for being staunchly loyal to BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa and was in the news in October 2012 for allegedly making abusive remarks against the central leadership for ousting Yeddyurappa from the Chief Minister's post.
He was soon expelled from the BJP and he followed Yeddyurappa as he formed the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP). Dhananjay was even made the state president of the short-lived party. He then rejoined the BJP amid strong opposition after the KJP dissolved.
In March 2014, Dhananjay switched allegiances to the JD(S) before returning to the BJP in 2015. However, in 2017, Dhananjay once again jumped ship to the Congress after holding talks with Rahul Gandhi.