Uttarakhand Finance Minister Prakash Pant died in the United States, where he was undergoing treating for a lung ailment, on Tuesday, reported PTI. He was 59.
The Uttarakhand government has declared a three-day mourning in the state. A public holiday has also been declared for Thursday.
Pant had been unwell for some time now, and did not campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha elections. Pant became almost unconscious twice while presenting the state Budget in February. He went to the US in the last week of May. Before that, he was undergoing treatment at a hospital at Rohini in New Delhi.
A pharmacist by profession, Pant was elected an MLA from Pithoragarh district. Besides being the finance minister, Pant held a host of other portfolios including parliamentary affairs. He was said to be one of the front-runners in the race to be the chief minister of Uttarakhand in 2017.
Condolences poured in for his family. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to express his condolences. “Anguished by the passing away of Uttarakhand Finance Minister Shri Prakash Pant,” he tweeted. “His organisational skills helped strengthen the BJP and administrative skills contributed to Uttarakhand’s progress. My thoughts are with his family and supporters.” Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said he had lost his younger brother. He called Pant a dynamic leader who was always smiling.