H. VasanthKumar who had been admitted to a hospital in Chennai on August,10 after testing positive for the coronavirus died after he contracted severe pneumonia.
H. Vasanthkumar, the Congress MP from Tamil Nadu’s kanyakumari who died on Friday after contracting the coronavirus, had flagged the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic in parliament earlier this year, suggesting measures to tackle the crisis, only to be interrupted and have his mic cut off.
“Speaker sir, we have to announce a national disaster due to coronavirus affecting the whole nation. A zero-revenue situation will definitely impact the repayment of loans. I urge the government to reschedule the loan payment of small businessmen and individuals at least for three months,” the lawmaker had said during a session in March when parliament was still functioning.
“Daily wagers have been adversely affected. I urge upon the government to pay a minimum of ₹ 2,000 per family…” he said, before Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla asked another lawmaker to speak.
As Mr Vasanthakumar was seen requesting one more minute to speak, going on to suggest a waiver of the Goods and Services Tax, Mr Birla asked Trinamool Congress’s Saugata Roy to take over, telling the Congress MP with a smile: “Mic bandh (off)”.
After his death on a Friday, a video of the exchange was widely shared on Twitter, drawing sharp responses.
Many of the measures that Mr Vasanthakumar suggested were later announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government months later as part of the much-talked about “Rs 20 lakh crore economic package”.
The 70-year-old leader who had been admitted to a hospital in Chennai on August 10 after testing positive for the coronavirus died after he contracted severe pneumonia. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter, a party spokesperson said.
A first-time MP from Tamil Nadu, H Vasanthakumar had also been elected MLA twice in the past from the Nanguneri assembly constituency and was the working president of the state Congress committee.
He also established Vasantha & Co, a chain of consumer electronics and home appliances stores and Vasanth TV, an entertainment satellite channel. From his humble beginnings as a salesman, H Vasanthakumar went on to have his smiling face on billboards and ads for his vast retail chain across Tamil Nadu.
PM Modi was among those who condoled the death, saying, “His strides in business and social service efforts were noteworthy.”