Former Union Minister V Dhananjay Kumar passed away today in Mangaluru following a prolonged illness. By December 2018, he had slipped into a coma and his condition worsened over the last few months. He was 67 years old and is survived by his wife Vanitha and two children Pavithra and Parinith. His mortal remains will be kept at his residence in Kadri in the city before being taken to his home town Venur.
A lawyer by profession, Venur Dhananjay Kumar secured his law degree in 1973 from a college in Udupi and practiced in Mangaluru. A firm believer of the RSS’ Hindutva ideology, he soon became an integral part of the BJP’s youth wing. In the 1983 Karnataka Assembly Elections, he contested and won from Mangaluru constituency. The victory made him the first BJP MLA to win an election from Dakshina Kannada region.
In the 1991 Lok Sabha polls, he contested on a BJP ticket from Mangaluru Lok Sabha constituency. He was also one of the first few BJP MPs to be elected from south India, at a time when the Congress party’s reach was at its peak. He went on to win Lok Sabha elections three more times from Mangaluru – in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
Dhananjay Kumar soon joined Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) party when it was established. When Dhananjay was not permitted to join the BJP by the top party leaders, he defected to the Congress. The late minister had earlier handled finance and textiles department of Karnataka. While serving as a cabinet minister during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s rule, Dhananjay Kumar had held the civil aviation and tourism portfolios.
In March 2014, Dhananjay switched allegiances to the JD(S) before returning to the BJP in 2015. However, in 2017, Dhananjay once again jumped ship to the Congress after holding talks with Rahul Gandhi.
Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy condoled Dhananjay Kumar’s death and said he was “saddened by the death”. “Former Union Minister Dhananjay Kumar passed away today (Monday). I am deeply saddened. He was served as a Union Minister and held multiple portfolios. May his soul rest in peace. May his family have the strength to bear the pain his death will bring,” Kumaraswamy said.