Oscar Fernandes: A 24×7 politician who was at all times approachable

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The yr was 1983. After a tough days’ work, three younger common secretaries of the Congress’s college students wing NSU(I) took off to look at a late evening film in Delhi. But they had been in for a shock when midway by means of the film a slide with their names appeared on the display asking them to contact the theatre supervisor.

The stunned trio – Ganesh Shankar Pandey, Pradyut Guha and Subodh Kumar – reached the supervisor’s workplace. Awaiting them there was a message from Oscar Fernandes, who was then an AICC joint secretary connected to occasion common secretary Rajiv Gandhi, who was in command of the frontal organisations.

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

The three had been given some organisational duties and Fernandes was ready to listen to from them until late within the evening. When there was no phrase from them, Fernandes reached the NSU(I) workplace solely to listen to that the three had gone for a film. The folklore within the Congress circles was that Fernandes received a senior police official to direct a number of the film halls within the metropolis to insert the slide in between the film.

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Pandey, or for that matter a number of senior leaders of the occasion, remembers Fernandes as a 24×7 politician in each sense of the phrase. It was a standard sight to see a lone queue of holiday makers at Fernandes’s residence even after midnight when he was the Labour Minister within the Manmohan Singh II authorities.

Party leaders bear in mind him as an affable, soft-spoken and humble character who actually believed that politics was about working for the “have-nots”. And he was an out and out organisational man.

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

Pandey fondly remembers that he had later complained to Gandhi that they need to be allowed some free time at the very least 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 remembers.

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

And it was Fernandes’s exhausting work that prompted 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 had been ­Arun Singh and Ahmed Patel.

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

Oscar Fernandes (second from proper) with Sita Ram Kesari, Balraj Jakhar and Ok Karunakaran at CWC assembly. (Express Archive)

After Sanjay’s demise, he turned a detailed affiliate and loyalist of Rajiv Gandhi, who first appointed him as one of many joint secretaries to help him in organisational issues after which made him a parliamentary secretary. “He worked over 18 hours a day… and the dedication impressed Rajiv,” a pacesetter stated. “He was unflappable. Never lost his cool… was always smiling and affectionate towards everyone,” a senior chief stated.

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

Although he turned an MP in 1980, Fernandes might enter the union council of ministers solely in 2004 when was 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 turned a cupboard minister in command of Road Transport and Highways.

While Fernandes stayed away from controversies all by means of his life, his association with the Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) by Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YIL) turned controversial. Apart from the Gandhis, late Congress chief Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda had been additionally named within the case. According to paperwork, 76 per cent of shareholding of YIL is with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, whereas the remaining 24 per cent vests within the others named within the case.

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