TN Minister Doraikkannu, treated for COVID-19, dies

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(Eds: Combines related stories) Chennai, Nov 1 (PTI) Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister R Doraikkannu, who died on Saturday at a private hospital in the city where he was treated for COVID-19, was laid to rest at his native village in Thanjavur on Sunday with full state honours.

Leaders, including Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami and DMK President M K Stalin condoled the AIADMK leader's death.

The Agriculture portfolio held by him was allotted to state Higher Education Minister K P Anbalagan by Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Palaniswami's recommendation.

With the demise of Doraikkannu, who had represented Papanasam in Thanjavur for three straight terms in the state Assembly since 2006, the ruling AIADMK's strength in the 234 -member house has reduced by one to 123.

Assembly elections in the state are due in April-May 2021 and there are already three vacancies in the House now, all created due to the death of DMK MLAs of the respective segments.

The 72 year-old Doraikkannu, who was on life support for several days after being admitted on October 13, breathed his last at 11.15 pm on Saturday, Kauvery Hospital, where he was under treatment earlier, said on Sunday.

Doraikkannu is survived by his 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.

He was inducted in the state cabinet by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa in 2016.

Doraikkannu's body was taken to his native Rajagiri in Thanjavur and laid to rest there with full state honours, including a gun salute.

Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Modi took to Twitter to condole the demise of Doraikkannu.

'Deeply anguished by the passing away of Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister, Sri Doraikannu,' Naidu tweeted.

'He worked with dedication for the uplift of the downtrodden & welfare of farmers. My condolences to his bereaved family members. Om Shanti!' Modi also expressed sadness at the 72-year-old minister's demise.

'Saddened by the demise of Minister in the Tamil Nadu Government, Thiru R Doraikkannu. He made noteworthy efforts to serve society and empower the farmers. Condolences to his family and supporters in this sad hour,' the Prime Minister's Office quoted Modi as saying.

State Governor Banwarilal Purohit said 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.

In a statement, Palniswami said the senior leader's death was a 'great loss' to the party and the state and extended his sympathies to the bereaved family.

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'.

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 uneasiness 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 APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH