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Brother Oscar: Unassuming persona and Sonia's Man Friday

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Oct 24 (UNI) AICC General Secretary and veteran leader Oscar Fernandes has always been known as a man with remarkable political acumen and a troubleshooter for the party.

A five-term Lok Sabha MP from Udupi Parliamentary Constituency in Karnatka, Fernandes was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Congress after he lost the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.

Son of a school teacher, Fernandes, who was the KPCC president for two terms, is well-liked among party men.

Mr Fernandes is believed to be the most trusted confidant of UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who banks on him for both political and governmental matters.

He had been the general secretary of the party ever since Ms Gandhi assumed charge and was brought into the government as minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation after the UPA came to power.

After the death of former actor-turned-MP Sunil Dutt, he was given charge of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the resignation of Mr Jagdish Tytler brought the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs under his charge as well. He has also been entrusted by the government to talk to the NSCN(I-M) leaders and has emerged as the key person on this issue.

Mrs Gandhi brought him in as chairman of the Congress central election authority in place of Mr Ram Niwas Mirdha. Mr Fernandes presided over her re-election in May last and his nomination was perceived as further evidence of her trust in him. After this he was given two additional ministries to look after, and has been given sufficient freedom in handling the Naga crisis.

''Brother Oscar'', as he is popularly known, has given his own touch to the talks with the NSCN leaders, beginning the meetings with prayers in which all present participate. He has maintained a stoic silence on the issue.

Mr Fernandes is a versatile personality, being an exponent of Kuchipudi. His political advice to former Kerala Chief Minister A K Antony when he was involved in a direct conflict with Mr K Karunakaran was to ''practice yoga''.

Mrs Gandhi relied on him to bring leaders like Mr S Bangarappa and Mr Sheesh Ram Ola back into the Congress fold. As general secretary he was also placed in charge of Bihar.

In a Congress Working Committee that is nominated and has advisers drawn mainly from the Rajya Sabha, Mr Fernandes has gained the trust and confidence of the Congress president because of his unassuming persona.

His silence extends to the Upper House of Parliament where he rarely speaks, unless required to as a Minister.

He is perhaps one of the few leaders in the Congress not sensitive to reports appear in the media describing him as a ''loyalist''.

UNI RL NK DB2025

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