India’s newly appointed Rural Development Minister, Gopinath Munde, has died following a head-on road collision in the capital city, New Delhi, according to TV news reports.
Mr Munde, who joined the administration of new Prime Minister Narendra Modi just last week, was on the way to Delhi’s airport when he was seriously injured in the crash.
When Munde was brought to the hospital, there was no spontaneous breathing, no pulse, bilateral pupils dilated and no cardiac activity, AIIMS spokesman Amit Gupta said.
He said efforts to revive Munde did not succeed and he breathed his last at 7:20am.
A Delhi Police official said that the driver of the car, which hit Munde’s car, has been taken into custody.
Munde, brother-in-law of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, was sitting on the rear seat of his car when another car jumped a traffic signal and dashed into the minister’s car from the side around 6:20am, police said.
The minister was going to catch a flight to Mumbai, capital of his home state Maharashtra.
Munde, a senior politician from Maharashtra, was sworn in as a cabinet minister for Rural Development on May 26 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the prime minister.
This was the first time that Munde, a prominent leader of BJP from a backward caste, became in the federal cabinet. He was also till recently in the reckoning for the projection of the party’s candidate as chief minister in Maharashtra where state legislature polls are due later this year.
Born on December 12, 1949 in Bheed district of Maharashtra, Munde came from a family of farmers and during his college days was drawn to the students’ movement.
He was a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) for five terms during 1980-1985 and 1990-2009. He was also the Leader of the Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly during 1992-1995.
He has held the post of Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 1995-1999 when BJP and its ally Shiv Sena were in power in the state. He was elected to Lok Sabha in 2009 and 2014 and served as the Deputy Leader BJP in the Lok Sabha.
Munde won this year’s Lok Sabha election from Bheed constituency by a margin of two lakh votes.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed their heartfelt condolences over the death of Munde.
Mukherjee said Munde’s passing away “is a huge loss for the people of Maharashtra and India. In his death, we have lost a veteran leader who always worked for the common man”.
Modi said in his Twitter post that “extremely saddened & shocked by the demise of my friend & colleague Gopinath Munde ji. His demise is a major loss for the Nation & the Govt.”
“Gopinath Munde ji was a true mass leader. Hailing from backward sections of society, he rose to great heights & tirelessly served people. My tributes to a dynamic leader whose premature demise leaves a void hard to fill”, he said.