Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Monday penned a heartfelt note after senior party leader and former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes passed away in Mangalore today. He was 80.
Gandhi said Fernandes was a Congressman to the core, who championed the cause of labour and underprivileged. She said his humility, affability and integrity will remain to all in public life.
"A Congressman to the core, a veteran Parliamentarian, a sensitive Minister who championed the cause of labour & underprivileged and an individual firmly anchored in the grassroots-- Shri Oscar Fernandes was all of this and much more," Gandhi wrote.
"His humility, affability, integrity will remain to all in public life. His demise is a huge loss to each and every Congress worker and indeed for the entire country. I salute this remarkable colleague who enriched our lives and made so many contributions. My heartfelt condolences to his family," she added.
Gandhi also called up Blossom Fernandes, the wife of Oscar Fernandes.
Sonia Gandhi tried to pacify Blossom Fernandes who was not able to speak and cried at the loss of her husband. Sonia said she must cherish beautiful memories of him (Oscar Fernandes).
"Don't cry too much. You have so many beautiful memories of his. We all loved him. I don't think there was anyone who disrespected him. Now, you must be strong for your children. I will speak to you after few days. Whatever you decide on final rites is fine with me," Sonia said over the phone.
The audio of Sonia Gandhi talking to Blossom Fernandes has gone viral on the social media.
Oscar Fernandes and Blossom Fernandes were always seen together and cherished envious bondage.
Oscar Fernandes was one of the few mass leaders who won the hearts of people who are deeply divided on communal lines in the coastal Karnataka region. The people revered him for his contribution in building highways and infrastructure in the coastal belt.
Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda described him as 'Ajaathashatru' (a person who has no enemy). "Let almighty bestow peace on his soul," he said.
Born on March 27, 1941, Oscar Fernandes was a senior Congress leader and was the Union Cabinet Minister for Transport, Road and Highways and Labour and Employment, in the UPA government.
He was elected to the 7th Lok Sabha in 1980 from the Udupi constituency in Karnataka. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1996 from the same constituency. Later, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1998. He was re-elected to the upper house in 2004.
(With IANS inputs)