After battling COVID-19 for eight days, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam legislator and the main opposition party's noted articulate member in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, J Anbazhagan died at a private hospital in Chennai on Wednesday.
The 62-year old MLA, born on June 10, 1958 incidentally died on his 62nd birthday today and he is the first legislator victim of COVID-19 in the state and perhaps the first elected representative to die of the virus induced illness in the country.
Anbazhagan battled severe COVID-19 triggered pneumonia and his health condition rapidly deteriorated early morning on Wednesday, Dr Rela Institute and Medical Centre, where he was treated said in a statement.
'Inspite of full medical support, including mechanical ventilation at our COVID-19 facility, he succumbed to his illness,' the hospital said and condoled his death.
The MLA, who had co-morbidities including chronic kidney disease was put on ventilator support on June 3 -- a day after his admission -- as his respiratory distress worsened.
Subsequently, though he showed improvement with his oxygen requirement sliding to half, his health condition deteriorated significantly on Monday.
His oxygen requirement went up once again and his cardiac function and chronic kidney disease also deteriorated and he was declared critical.
Initially, on admission, he was managed with high flow oxygen therapy through facemask.
He had undergone liver transplant about 15 years ago and he was on medication for that.
Later, his body, sealed in a casket was buried at a crematorium in Chennai in the presence of scores of party workers and family members while police and civic authorities had a tough time regulating crowd.
Mourners lined up in front of the crematorium as well holding placards condoling the DMK man's death.
Corporation personnel clad in protective gear lowered the body into the deep pit with the help of a customised apparatus equipped with belts to place the mortal remains safely on ground.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, DMK chief M K Stalin, and leaders cutting across party lines including Congress veteran P Chidambaram condoled the death.
Son of Pazhakadai Jayaraman, a veteran DMK leader, Anbazhagan is survived by wife, a son and a daughter.
He served as party district secretary, a key post in Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu for 18 long years in Chennai.
A bold and senior party functionary here, he was the Chennai West District Secretary and he has successfully organised a slew of party events and is close to party chief M K Stalin.
A backbencher in the Assembly, Anbazhagan is among DMK's noted articulate members in the House and he had often locked horns with ministers and ruling AIADMK MLAs over several issues.
A vocal critic of the AIADMK government, he tore a copy of Governor Banwarilal Purohit's address to the Assembly in January this year and put it on the table of Speaker P Dhanapal and he was briefly suspended.
He was elected to the Assembly from here in 2001 (T Nagar), 2011 and 2016 (Chepauk-Triplicane).
A film producer, distributor and businessman, Anbazhagan's recent interview to a media portal in which he advisedpublic to exercisecaution and help prevent spread of coronavirushas gone viral in social media.
DMK president M K Stalin condoled Anbazhagan's death and alongwith party veterans and workers paid floral tributes to his decked up portrait in the party office here.
Expressing shock, Stalin said Anbazhagan slogged without respite to carry out the anti-COVID-19 people's welfare initiatives of the party.
Christened 'Ondrinaivom Vaa' which meant let us join to fight coronavirus, it is a DMK's relief initiative.
The MLA contracted the virus during his fully dedicated work for the people during the times of the pandemic, Stalin said and according to the party he was active on the field to distribute relief even two days before his admission (on June 2) to the hospital.
Party flags would fly at half-mast for three days and party organised welfare events were being postponed, the DMK chief said.
Health Minister C Vijayabaskar who had days ago visited the hospital, where the MLA was treated said on his twitter handle, 'I am deeply saddened about the loss of Mr.#JAnbazhagan MLA this morning.
'My heartfelt condolences to his family, people of his constituency and his party. May his soul rest in peace. #RIP #JAnbazhagan.'