(Eds: Recasts, adds details, reax) Chennai, Nov 1 (PTI) Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister R Doraikkannu died at a private hospital in the city where he was treated for COVID-19, a bulletin from it said on Sunday.
The 72 year-old minister, who was on life support for several days after being admitted on October 13, breathed his last at 11.15 pm on Saturday, the Kauvery Hospital said.
'With deep grief, we announce the sad demise of Honourable Minister for Agriculture R Doraikkannu,' hospital Executive Director Dr Aravdindan Selvaraj said in the brief medical bulletin.
A three-time AIADMK MLA, Doraikkannu is survived by wife and six children.
He is the third sitting elected representative from the state to have died after contracting coronavirus, the others being DMK MLA J Anbazhagan and Congress Lok Sabha MP from Kanniyakumari H Vasanthakumar.
Doraikkannu has represented Papanasam in Thanjavur district in the state assembly since 2006 and was inducted in the cabinet in 2016 by late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam and DMK president M K Stalin among others condoled Doraikkannu's demise.
Doraikannu was known for his 'simplicity, humbleness, straightforwardness, governance skills and commitment towards the welfare of the farming community... He handled the Ministry of Agriculture with full dedication and engraved his strong mark,' Purohit said in a message.
Palaniswami, who described the late leader as an 'elder brother,' said Doraikkannu had joined the AIADMK when it was founded by the late CM M G Ramachandran in 1972, adding he had served the party with dedication since then.
Doraikkannu had efficiently handled his Agriculture portfolio, he said, describing him as an affable person.
In a statement, the chief minister said the senior leader's death was a 'great loss' to the party and the state and extended his sympathies to the bereaved family.
Palaniswami visited the hospital on Sunday and paid floral tributes to a portrait of Doraikkannu there.
In a separate party statement, Panneerselvam and Palaniswami, AIADMK Coordinator and Co-Coordinator respectively, recalled the late minister's decades-long association with the party and hailed him for his 'effective public service.' Stalin, the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, expressed shock over the minister's demise and noted that the latter used to reply during debates in the House 'according to ethos'.
In a statement, he urged those in public life to exercise caution during their work in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Telangana Governor Tamiliasai Soundarajan and leaders of various political parties including Vaiko (MDMK), G K Vasan (TMC), S Ramadoss (PMK), L Murugan (BJP) and those of CPI and CPI-M also expressed their condolences.
Doraikkannu had complained of uneassiness on October 13 while travelling to Salem and was rushed to the government medical college hospital in Villupuram. The same day, he was shifted to the Kauvery Hospital, where he tested positive for COVID-19.
The hospital had said on Monday the Minister was being treated for severe COVID pneumonia and its complications and put on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a heart- lung assistance machine, and ventilator. PTI SA VS VS