2018 was a year when India lost many prominent personalities from all walks of life, with politics and cinema receiving a particularly severe blow. Mass outpouring of grief followed former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's death on August 16, which marked the end of an era in India's politics. His death prompted mournings from across the political spectrum that was at odds with a recent political climate that has been defined by intense partisanship, coarse insults and divisive rhetoric. The death of Tamil Nadu's Kalaignar - Muthuvel Karunanidhi, on August 7, too left a void in the southern state's political history.
As 2018 draws to a close, let us take a look at the political leaders India had to bid farewell to this year:
Bhishma Narain Singh - August 1
Former Union minister Bhishma Narain Singh died following prolonged illness. He was 85. His contribution to Congress and Gandhian ways were always speculated and admired.
RK Dhawan - August 6
Rajinder Kumar Dhawan, breathed his last at the B L Kapur hospital, New Delhi. He ailed from sepsis and passed away following a prolonged illness. A close confidante of Indira Gandhi, he was known to be part of her inner circle during the Emergency years. He was 81 at the time of his death.
Muthuvel Karunanidhi - August 7, 2018
Renowned politician and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M Karunanidhi breathed his last on August 7, 2018, owing to multiple organ failure. Fondly known as Kalaignar, the writer and politician from Tamil Nadu, died at 94, leaving a void in Tamil Nadu's political history. He had served as CM of the southern state for almost two decades over five terms between 1969 and 2011. He was a long-standing leader of the Dravidian movement and 10-time president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam political party.
Somnath Chatterjee - August 13
Somnath Chatterjee, a 10-time Member of Parliament and former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, died at the age of 89. The veteran Marxist leader practised law for 18 years before he took a formal plunge into politics. In 1971, he contested the general elections for the first time, just three years after becoming a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in West Bengal. Over the next few decades, Chatterjee left a mark on Parliament and on Indian politics as a formidable orator. Somnath Chatterjee went on to become a Member of Parliament for 10 times. The only time he lost a parliamentary election was in 1984 when Mamata Banerjee defeated him from Kolkata's prestigious Jadavpur constituency.
Balramji Das Tandon - August 14
Chhattisgarh Governor Balram Das Tandon passed away after suffering a heart attack in Dr B R Ambedkar Memorial Hospital in Raipur. He was 90. Tandon was one of the founding members of the Jan Sangh, which later became the BJP. He became the governor of Chhattisgarh in July 2014 and had served on various other posts including the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab. The 90-year-old leader was also jailed during Emergency from 1975 to 1977.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee - August 16, 2018
Vajpayee, one of India's most charismatic leaders, died at AIIMS hospital in Delhi following a prolonged illness. He was 93. Vajpayee was known as one of India's most revolutionary politicians and was famous for the Pokhran nuclear tests conducted by India in 1998. Vajpayee was prime minister three times: For 13 days in 1996, 13 months from 1998 to 1999 and then from 1999 to 2004. He was an orator par excellence and a parliamentarian of exceptional calibre.
Gurudas Kamat - August 22
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Gurudas Kamat died of a heart attack in Delhi at the age of 63. A five-time MP, Kamat was a strong organizational man and headed the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) for a long time. He was also the All India Congress Committee general secretary. Born in Ankola village of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka on 5 October 1954, Kamat was handpicked by the then Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 as a Congress candidate from Mumbai North East constituency. Kamat, only 30 then, went on to defeat BJP stalwart Pramod Mahajan by more than 96,000 votes.
Narayan D Tiwari - October 18
Tiwari, who served as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for three terms and Uttarakhand for one term, passed away at the age of 93. He won his first election on a Praja Samajwadi Party ticket from Nainital in 1952. A decade later, he joined the Congress and stuck with it for most of his life. Tiwari’s political career began before Independence. As a teenager, he was jailed for 15 months in Nainital prison, according to one account for writing anti-British pamphlets, where his freedom fighter father too was lodged.
Madan Lal Khurana - October 27
Former Delhi chief minister Madan Lal Khurana breathed his last on October 27 following a prolonged illness. He was 82. As a member of the BJP, he had held several posts in the party, including a stint as the national vice president. He first ventured into politics as a student after becoming the general secretary of the Allahabad Students’ Union in 1959. His mainstream political stint began with the Jan Sangh, which later became the Bharatiya Janata Party. After his party won legislative assembly elections in 1993, Khurana was instated as CM. The BJP then went on to win the legislative assembly elections in 1993, with Khurana being instated as chief minister. He was appointed as the Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Tourism in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government until it was dissolved in 1999. In 2004, he served as the Governor of Rajasthan from January to November.
Ananth Kumar - November 12
Union minister HN Ananth Kumar died at the age of 59 in Bengaluru. His journey into public life began due to his association with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Kumar began his parliamentary career when he got elected to Lok Sabha in 1996 from Bangalore South, the constituency, which remained his strong fort till his passing sway, by winning it for six consecutive times.
C N Balakrishnan - December 10
Veteran Congress leader and former Kerala minister C N Balakrishnan died at the age of 84. Balakrishnan was the president of the Thrissur DCC for a long period and later became state treasurer of the party. He was the minister for cooperation in the Oommen Chandy government.
Some other politicians and Rajya Sabha members who died in 2018 are:
Bhola Singh, M I Shanavas, Mohammad Asrarul Haque, R K Dorendra Singh, Karma Topden, Kuldip Nayyar, Nandamuri Harikrishna, Darshan Singh Yadav, Ratnakar Pandey, Satya Prakash Malviya, Ram Deo Bhandary, Malti Sharma, P.K. Maheshwari and Baishnab Parida.