Mangaluru, Sept 13: Former union minister and veteran leader of Indian National Congress Oscar Fernandes passed away today after months after treatment at a private hospital in the city.
A prominent minority leader of INC, Fernades was the Union Cabinet Minister for Transport, Road and Highways and Labour and Employment, Government of India in UPA government.
He was one of the closest confidants of the present Congress President Rahul Gandhi and one of the major leaders in the taking of important decisions of Congress Party.
He was also the Chairman of Central Election Authority of the All India Congress Committee. He was the AICC General Secretary, the Minister of State (Independent charge) of the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Dr. Manmohan Singh's first UPA government in India.
He served as Parliamentary Secretary to Rajiv Gandhi. He was elected to the 7th Lok Sabha in 1980 from Udupi constituency in Karnataka. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1984, 1989, 1991 and 1996 from the same constituency. Later, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1998. He was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2004. He was a Union Minister from 2004 to 2009, holding a number of portfolios such as Statistics and Programme Implementation, NRI Affairs, Youth and Sports Affairs and Labour and Employment. He served two terms as a member of the Council of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
Oscar was born on 27th March 1941 to Roque Fernandes, the head of Government Composite PU College and the first President of Manipal Institute of Technology and Leonissa M. Fernandes, the first female magistrate in India, at the family estate at Udupi.
Fernandes was one of 12 children in his family, and grew up with a strong Catholic background. As a child he was an altar boy, and as a youth he was active in Church activities. His family belongs to the Fernandes-Prabhu clan, a Mangalorean Catholic clan from Udyavara in Udupi district. He married Blossom Mathias Prabhu on 26 August 1981 and has one son Oshan and one daughter Oshanie. His son Oshan is married to Frazil Quadros and Oscar's daughter Oshanie is married to Mark Saldanha. In 2002 Fernandes inaugurated the Glowinstar Academy, an integrated development school, in Ambalpady, dedicated to his father, Roque.