Veteran Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who passed away on Monday at the age of 72, was one of the party’s most popular leaders in West Bengal. He was a parliamentarian who enjoyed cross-party goodwill and was Union parliamentary affairs minister when he suffered a massive stroke that left him paralysed in 2008.
He was a member of 14th Lok Sabha and represented the Raiganj Lok Sabha constituency of West Bengal.
Dasmunsi was President of Indian Youth Congress in West Bengal from 1970 to 1971. The late leader entered the Indian Parliament in 1971. He was sworn in as Union Minister of State, Commerce in 1985.
He was the cabinet minister in Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting during the first term of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Dasmunsi’s dream to set up an AIIMS-like hospital in Raiganj remained unfulfilled. In 2014, this issue dominated an election contest between his wife and his brother in Raiganj that has been a Congress stronghold since 1999.
The leader suffered a massive stroke in 2008 which left him paralysed and unable to speak. Blood supply to a part of his brain was cut off causing irreversible damage. His body systems were functional but he breathed through a tracheostomy tube attached to his neck and was fed through a PEG tube in his stomach. All basic life functions like breathing, blood pressure, sleepawake cycle were stable but he was not conscious of his surroundings.
Dasmunsi also served as the President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for almost 20 years. He became the first Indian to be a match commissioner in a World Cup match in 2006. He was in charge of Spain vs Tunisia and Croatia vs Australia matches, both played in Stuttgart, Germany.
His family also took him to Germany for treatment and was consulting a UK-based hospital. In 2015, the BJP-led government said it would continue to pay for his hospital stay and “would not deny him treatment”.
After he suffered the heart stroke, his wife Deepa became active in party politics. She contested and won parliamentary polls and was also a Union minister in the Congress-led UPA government.