Gurudas Kamat, Senior Congress leader and former Union minister, passed away at the age of 63 Wednesday morning at Primus hospital in New Delhi‘s Chanakyapuri, after suffering a cardiac arrest. Kamat was in New Delhi to meet Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel and he was scheduled to return to Mumbai Wednesday evening for Eid celebrations.
Born on October 5, 1954, Kamat did his schooling from Holy Cross School in Kurla. He later joined the Podar College of Commerce and Economics, Matunga and won the Prof. Welingkar Trophy in 1976 for being the “Most Outstanding Student” of Podar College. Kamat had also represented his school in Cricket, Badminton and Table Tennis and later represented Podar College as well in Badminton, where he was the team captain for 3 years. After graduation, Kamat pursued law from the Government Law College in Mumbai.
He was raised in a working-class family with no political background. He married Maharookh Kamat in 1981. Thier son, Sunil Kamat is an accomplished Doctor.
An Advocate by profession, Kamat began his political journey as a student activist in 1972. He joined the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress party, while he was studying in Podar College. In 1976, he was appointed as president of the Mumbai NSUI.
Kamat contested the Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai North East Parliamentary Constituency in December 1984, an election which he won, trouncing the then sitting MP Subramaniam Swamy and Pramod Mahajan of the BJP. He defeated BJP’s Jaywantiben Mehta in 1991 and again Mahajan in 1998. Further, in 2004, he defeated BJP’s Kirit Somaiya and, in 2009, Gajanan Kirtikar of the Shiv Sena.
In 1994, he was a member of the four-member delegation representing India at the United Nations in New York City along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Inder Kumar Gujral and Farooq Abdullah. In 2012, Kamat also represented former PM Manmohan Singh, at the UN Convention at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Kamat was appointed as President of Indian Youth Congress in 1987 by late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He went on to become President of Mumbai Regional Congress Committee after then Congress President Sonia Gandhi nominated him to post on March 16, 2003.
Having served five terms in Lok Sabha, the former Congress leader served in the UPA 2 government as MoS Ministry of Home Affairs and MoS Ministry of Communications and Information Technology from 2009 to 2011. He was the AICC General Secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and a Member of the highest decision-making body of the party. He also represented the Mumbai North West Constituency of Maharashtra between 2009-2014.
In 2011, he resigned from the council of ministers following a cabinet reshuffle in which he was allotted MoS Drinking Water and Sanitation. He was reportedly upset that he was not given a Cabinet rank despite being a senior party leader from Maharashtra. Kamat, however, had said that there was “no question of any disappointment over the portfolio and the reasons were personal”.
In 2016, Gurudas Kamat announced his resignation from the party saying he was retiring from politics. Reports seemed to suggest that he was being sidelined in the Mumbai Congress unit.
Having relentlessly pursued the development of Mumbai City in particular and Maharashtra in general, Kamat had always been stood up for the downtrodden masses.