One of Kerala's prominent socialist leaders, Rajya Sabha MP and Managing Director of Mathrubhumi, MP Veerendra Kumar, passed away at the age of 83 in Kozhikode on Thursday. According to media reports, he was admitted to a private hospital in Kozhikode at 8.30 pm on Thursday. He passed away shortly thereafter, reportedly due to a cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife, son and three daughters.
A well-known politician and literary figure in Kerala, Veerendra Kumar has made his impact in national and state politics and the world of media and literature. A man who won from Kozhikode twice as Lok Sabha member, Veerendra Kumar has also served as a minister at both the Centre and state. He also received the Sahitya Akademi award for his travelogue, Haimavatha Bhhovil, in 2010. He has won over 100 awards for his literary works, including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award.
Veerendra Kumar entered politics as a part of the political movement spearheaded by Jayaprakash Narayan. He strengthened the JP movement in the Malabar region of Kerala. He started his political career with the Socialist party. He has been with the Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) too.
He was elected to the Kerala Assembly from his hometown Kalpetta in 1987 and served as an MLA till 1991. He has served as Minister of Forests in Kerala.
He was elected to 11th and 13th Lok Sabha. He was a Union Minister for two years. Minister of State (MoS), Finance (Department of Expenditure) for a few months in 1997. He also served as MoS Labour (Independent Charge) with additional charges as MoS, Urban Affairs & Employment (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs between June 1997 to March 1998 in the IK Gujaral Cabinet.
His area of activity was confined mostly to the northern region and he contested from Palakkad only once in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and lost to CPI(M)â€™s MB Rajesh. Despite the defeat, he had been active in the political front and was elected as Rajya Sabha member.
But it was not only in the state's politics that he left an indelible mark, it is in the field of journalism too. In November 1979, Veerendra Kumar took over as Managing Director of the Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Company Ltd, one of Kerala's biggest and oldest publications, when it was going through a struggle. In the last few decades, Mathrubhumi has grown in leaps and bounds, innovated with the changing times and now runs several newspaper editions, a TV channel and many online ventures.
He has also served as Chairman of the Press Trust of India between 1992-1993, 2003-2004 and 2011-2012.