JORHAT, July 26 - Veteran Congress leader of the region and former Union Minister Bijoy Krishna Handique today breathed his last at the Jorhat Medical College Hospital due to cardiac arrest at the age of 80 years and six months.
Handique was the Union Cabinet Minister for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) and Mines, and Union Minister of State for various important portfolios like Defence, Chemical and Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, during the last two consecutive terms of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Born in Jorhat on December 1, 1934, to internationally acclaimed Sanskrit scholar Krishna Kanta Handiqui and Hemalata Handiqui, BK Handique was a man of a humble, dignified personality who was popular among all sections of people, irrespective of caste, creed, linguistic differences and political ideologies.
An MA in the English literature from the Calcutta University, Handique was a voracious reader of books and poems, who, prior to entering the political arena, had taught English in the reputed Hemalata Handiqui Memorial Institute School, Jorhat, and was immensely popular among students and guardians.
Before being elected to the 10th Lok Sabha in 1991 from the Jorhat constituency, he had been a member of the Rajya Sabha during 1980 and 1985 and a member of the Assam Legislative Assembly from 1972 to 1976.
He was the president of the Jorhat District Congress Committee from 1973 to 1978 and became a member of the All India Congress Committee (Indira) during this period.
From 1974 to 1977, Handique was the chairman of the Estimate Committee of the Assam Legislative Assembly and the Inquiry Committee of the Assam State Electricity Board.
During the period between 1980 and 1990, he served as vice-president of the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee, and as a member of the Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the Government Assurance Committee, the Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Education and Sports Affairs.
From 1991 to 2009, he did not lose any Lok Sabha poll and represented the Jorhat constituency in the Lower House for six consecutive terms till 2014.
He became the Union Minister for DoNER in 2009.
Handique�s death has been deeply condoled by several political leaders, parties, social organizations and dignitaries of the State.
Governor PB Acharya and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi have expressed deep sorrow at Handique�s demise. The Chief Minister paid rich tributes to the departed soul and termed his death as an irreparable loss to the party. Party MLAs including Rana Goswami and several Congress leaders and workers also paid tributes to the party stalwart.
Several elderly citizens of Jorhat, expressing grief at his demise, said Handique held various dignified positions in Congress-led governments in various terms, which have rarely been achieved by veteran politicians of the country.
Handique�s last rites will be performed tomorrow, as one of his three daughters is yet to arrive from abroad, stated an office-bearer of the Jorhat district Congress.