Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Maharashtra’s agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar, 67, passed away early Thursday morning. He died at a city hospital after a massive heart attack.
Fundkar, one of the seniormost ministers in the state Cabinet, was sworn in as agriculture minister in July 2016. He succeeded the berth vacated by Eknath Khadse, who had to resign in June 2016 over allegations of irregularity involving a land deal.
Expressing shock over the death of his colleague, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said: “The state has lost a senior leader with apt knowledge in the field of agriculture and cooperation. He shouldered many responsibilities in the organisational set-up, and made great contributions in taking the party to a greater height.”
Known as Bhausaheb in political circles, Fundkar was elected to the state legislative assembly in 1978 and 1980, and was the state BJP president twice, from 1992-99 and 2000-03. From 2005-11, he was a member of the legislative council, the Upper House of state legislature, where he was leader of Opposition.
He was elected Member of Parliament from Akola constituency in Vidarbha for three terms (1989,1991 and 1996), but missed the bagging Cabinet berths in 1995 and 2014 when the BJP formed the state government. However, in 2016, he was sworn in as minister during the second reshuffle of the state Cabinet.
He is survived by wife Sunita, two sons, Sagar and Akash, and daughter Vasundhara. Akash is an MLA from Khamgaon constituency in Maharashtra.