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|August 23, 2000||
Ranga's popularity cut across political lines
P Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, who passed away in the early hours of Wednesday, was an affable person liked by people across the political spectrum. Known as Ranga to friends, he had served both Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments.
A young and dynamic minister in the Vajpayee government, Kumaramangalam hailed from an illustrious family of politicians and public figures from Tamil Nadu. He was a third generation politician in a family that had both Congress and Leftist leanings. He was fluent in English, Tamil and Hindi, a rarity for a politician from Tamil Nadu.
Kumaramangalam's grandfather P Subbaroyan was a Congressman who served in Jawaharlal Nehru's Cabinet. His father Mohan Kumaramangalam was a Communist-turned-Congressman who died in an air crash in Delhi in May 1973. He served in Indira Gandhi's Cabinet.
His uncle, General P P Kumaramangalam, a former army chief, died this year. His aunt, Parvathi Krishnan, aa former MP, was a senior Communist Party of India leader.
Though Kumaramangalam was known for his left-of-centre positions, he had swung from one end of the political spectrum to the other with apparent ease. His decision to join the right-wing BJP on the eve of the 1998 general election raised many an eyebrow.
Born of a Tamil father and Bengali mother, Kumaramangalam was also conversant in Bengali and, thus, embraced a liberal, cosmopolitan character and outlook, having been educated in both Madras and Delhi.
Born on May 12, 1952, he was active in the student movement and was founder-president of the National Students Union of India, the student wing of the Congress.
Taking active interest in trade unionism, he became a labour leader and plunged into politics in 1975.
A fifth term member of Parliament, he was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1984 from Salem. He was re-elected twice -- 1989 and 1991 -- on a Congress ticket.
First inducted into the Union council of ministers by Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, he made a mark as minister of state for science and technology and parliamentary affairs.
He resigned in 1993 after the assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan attacking the economic reforms programme that was introduced in the early nineties.
He deserted the Congress when Arjun Singh and N D Tiwari floated the Congress (Tiwari) in 1996. Later, disillusioned with the Congress (T), he joined the BJP. He was elected twice from Tiruchirappali in Tamil Nadu as a BJP candidate, in 1998 and 1999.
He was appointed minister of power and parliamentary affairs in the National Democratic Alliance government in 1998-1999.
His friendly approach helped him considerably in his stint as parliamentary affairs minister. With an abiding interest in science and technology, especially electronics, Kumaramangalam worked tirelessly to improve the power generation scenario in the country.
He is survived by his wife Kitty, son Mohan and daughter Ruchira.
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