• Harshita Malhotra

Veteran Kerala Congress leader Aryadan Muhammed passes away

Veteran Congress leader and former minister Aryadan Muhammad died in a private hospital in Kozhikode in north Kerala on Sunday, his family members said. He was 87.

A tall secular leader from north Kerala, he remained like a colossus in state politics for more than six decades. Born in 1935 he was attracted to politics when he was a student and later he was active in trade union politics. In 1960, he was elected as the secretary of the district Congress committee in Kozhikode and when Malappuram district was formed in 1969 he was elected as the first president of the district Congress committee (DCC).

In 1977, he won for the first time from Nilambur assembly constituency in Malappuram and retained it seven times. He was the forest minister in the E K Nayanar government in 1980, in 1995 he was tourism minister in the A K Antony ministry and in 2011 he was power minister in the Oommen Chandy government.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took a break from his Bharat jodo yatra and rushed to Nilambur to pay respect to the departed leader. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan also condoled the death of the senior leader. “A secular leader, he was known for his bold positions,” he said. In the assembly seat vacated by him, his son Aryadan Shoukat, also a film maker, contested unsuccessfully once. His son said his body will be buried on Monday.