Who was Oscar Fernandes? Take a look at the veteran Congressman's political journey
Mangaluru, 13 Sep: Former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes died at the age of 80 on Monday. A senior politician was a five-time Lok Sabha MP and four-time Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka.
Who was Oscar Fernandes?
Oscar Fernandes was born on 27 March, 1941, to Roque Fenandez and Leonissa Fernandes. His father was a headmaster in a high school while his mother was the first lady bench magistrate of undivided South Kanara district.
He did his schooling and college in Udupi before working for a brief period in LIC. He was also into agriculture and won 'Best Rice Grower Award' from the Syndicate Agricultural Foundation of Manipal.
His journey in politics started in the early 70s and he became a councillor of Udupi Town Municipal Corporation. However, his life changed after he was asked to contest against industrialist TA PAI, a former Railway Minister who joined Devaraj Urs' Congress after parting ways with the Congress (I), in the 1980 Lok Sabha election.
TA Pai was the student of Oscar Fernandes's father Rocky Fernandes.
In the first election itself, he emerged victorious by securing 2,61,738 votes with late Karnataka Home Minister VS Acharya getting 1,01,769 votes. TA Pai ended at third place with 59,972 votes.
We had been very close and sat next to each other in the Rajya Sabha. Few years ago I had nudged him to speak in Tulu during a debate, when he burst into song which became quite a sensation. He had a wonderful sense of humour. (3/4) pic.twitter.com/7rCLza05Hc— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) September 13, 2021
In the next election held in 1984, Fernandes defeated BJP's KS Hegde. Five years later, he emerged victorious by defeating M Sanjeeva of Janata Dal.
In 1991 and 1996, Oscar Fernandes emerged victorious by defeating Rukmayya Poojary and IM Jayaram Shetty.
In 1998, he tasted his first defeat as IM Jayaram Shetty from the BJP emerged victorious from the Udupi constituency. Thereafter, he did not contest any election, but he was nominated four times as the Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka.
Congress veteran Oscar Fernandes is no more. A quintessential Coastal Karnataka man in New Delhi for over 40 years. Five time Lok Sabha&four time Rajya Sabha member. Except for 15 days in 1998, has been an MP till his death. With Moily, Oscar as Bhishma in a Yakshagana in Delhi. pic.twitter.com/itlvcfPFm5— DP SATISH (@dp_satish) September 13, 2021
He was a close aide of Sonia Gandhi and served as Parliamentary Secretary to Rajiv Gandhi. In the first UPA government, he served as the Union Minister for Transport, Road and Highways and Labour and Employment. He was also the Chairman of the Central Election Authority of the All India Congress Committee.
He had also served as the AICC General Secretary and KPCC President, twice.
Oscar Fernandes was a rare politician who was admired and respected across the political parties. All throughout his career, he stayed out of controversies and probably the only time he ran into trouble was when he justified the murder of a CEO in 2008 for which he apologised, later.
A Story of 'Gaumutra'
While the BJP's cow politics have come under severe criticism, Oscar Fernandes shared the story of 'gaumutra' (cow urine) much to the embarrassment of his party. He had claimed to have met a person in Meerut who told him that his cancer was cured by drinking it.
He had also spoken about the benefit of doing yoga and praised the Indian system of medicine. Notably, he revealed in the Rajya Sabha that doctors had advised him to undergo surgery for knee pain, but it was cured after doing 'vajrasana.'
"When (former) Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajypee ji had a knee surgery, I thought if I had known him earlier, I would have definitely gone to him and ask him to follow 'Vajrasan' and it could have been cured," The Print quoted him as saying.
He added, "Yoga is our wealth. If you practise yoga, may be our budget cost of health can be reduced by 50 per cent. It's way of life,"
His comments were welcomed by the BJP and RSS on social media sites.
A trained performer of traditional dance forms like Yakshagana Kuchipudi, he was passionate about sports like Kabbadi, swimming and volley ball.