Oscar Fernandes: A 24×7 politician who was always approachable

The yr was once 1983. After a troublesome day’s paintings, 3 younger basic secretaries of the Congress’s scholars wing NSU(I) took off to observe a overdue evening film in Delhi. But they have been in for a wonder when midway throughout the film a slide with their names gave the impression at the display asking them to touch the theatre supervisor.

The stunned trio – Ganesh Shankar Pandey, Pradyut Guha and Subodh Kumar – reached the chief’s place of business. Awaiting them there was once a message from Oscar Fernandes, who was once then an AICC joint secretary connected to birthday party basic secretary Rajiv Gandhi, who was once in command of the frontal organisations.

Oscar Fernandes, when he was once a member of Rajya Sabha. (Express Archive)

The 3 have been given some organisational duties and Fernandes was once ready to listen to from them until overdue within the evening. When there was once no phrase from them, Fernandes reached the NSU(I) place of business simplest to listen to that the 3 had long past for a film. The folklore within the Congress circles was once that Fernandes were given a senior police legit to direct probably the most film halls within the town to insert the slide in between the film.

Pandey, or for that topic a number of senior leaders of the birthday party, recalls Fernandes as a 24×7 baby-kisser in each and every sense of the phrase. It was once a commonplace sight to peer a protracted queue of tourists at Fernandes’s place of dwelling even after middle of the night when he was once the Labour Minister within the Manmohan Singh II govt.

Party leaders take into account him as an affable, soft-spoken and humble character who really believed that politics was once about running for the “have-nots”. And he was once an out and out organisational guy.

Oscar Fernandes (left) with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi all the way through a National Convention of Parliamentarians, Legislators, Zila Parishad Chairpersons & Mayors on HIV/AIDS in New Delhi in 2011. (Express Archive)

Pandey fondly recalls that he had later complained to Gandhi that they will have to be allowed some unfastened time no less than at evening. “I think it was Odeon cinema or Plaza. And the movie, if I remember correctly, was Prem Rog. Bajrang Lal was then the Police Commissioner. I think Fernandesji urged the Commissioner to ask the theatre to run the slide. The next day when we met Rajivji…we told him…Rajivji we are young boys…at least we should be allowed to enjoy the night,” Pandey recalls.

“Fernandesji was so committed and so passionate about work,” he provides.

And it was once Fernandes’s laborious paintings that brought on Gandhi to nominate him as a parliamentary secretary connected to him in December 1984 when he took over because the Prime Minister. The different two have been ­Arun Singh and Ahmed Patel.

Fernandes was once then in his first time period as Lok Sabha MP from Udupi. He was once elected to Lok Sabha 5 occasions and elected to Rajya Sabha 4 occasions. Having begun his electoral occupation as a member of the municipal council of Udupi after doing farming for a number of years, Fernandes changed into an MP for the primary time in 1980 on the age of 39. He was once handpicked via Sanjay Gandhi to contest the Lok Sabha seat from Udupi.

Oscar Fernandes (2d from proper) with Sita Ram Kesari, Balram Jakhar and Okay Karunakaran at CWC assembly. (Express Archive)

After Sanjay’s loss of life, he changed into a detailed affiliate and loyalist of Rajiv Gandhi, who first appointed him as probably the most joint secretaries to lend a hand him in organisational issues after which made him a parliamentary secretary. “He worked over 18 hours a day… and the dedication impressed Rajiv,” a pace-setter mentioned. “He was unflappable. Never lost his cool… was always smiling and affectionate towards everyone,” a senior chief mentioned.

Rajiv additionally appointed him as President of Karnataka Congress in 1986.

Although he changed into an MP in 1980, Fernandes may input the union council of ministers simplest in 2004 when was once appointed Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. He held the portfolios of Youth Affairs and Sports and Overseas Indian Affairs and Labour and Employment. In 2013, he changed into a cupboard minister in command of Road Transport and Highways.

While Fernandes stayed clear of controversies throughout his lifestyles, his affiliation with the Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) via Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIL) changed into arguable. Apart from the Gandhis, overdue Congress chief Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda have been additionally named within the case. According to paperwork, 76 in step with cent of shareholding of YIL is with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, whilst the remainder 24 in step with cent vests within the others named within the case.

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