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`Nation has lost an eminent political personality'

By Our Special Correspondent

Photo: K. Pichumani

The MDMK general secretary, Vaiko, paying homage to the Union Minister, Murasoli Maran, in Chennai on Monday. (More photographs at The Hindu website:

NEW DELHI NOV. 24. An emergency meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today condoled the death of the Union Minister, Murasoli Maran, and, said that in his passing away, the Cabinet had lost an experienced and valued colleague and the nation an eminent political personality.

The Cabinet placed on record its deep appreciation of Maran's contribution as Minister of Commerce and Industry in the National Democratic Alliance Government and drew attention to the many new reform-oriented initiatives launched under his stewardship to boost India's exports. It also spoke of his role at the Doha conference of the World Trade Organisation.

The most notable among the reform-oriented initiatives was the decision to establish Special Economic Zones in the country, a resolution adopted at the meeting said. "His spirited advocacy of the interests of India and other developing countries at the WTO ministerial conference in the year 2000 was a high watermark in his long service to the nation."

The Cabinet also noted Maran's contributions to the defence of democracy, in particular, his role during the Emergency, and to the evolution of a sound culture of coalition governance. "He believed that regional aspirations and a national outlook should be harmonised and he worked for the actualisation of this belief in the NDA Government," it said.

Despite his active involvement in politics, Maran also worked in the fields of journalism, literature, film making and television and was instrumental in the launch of India's first regional satellite television channel. The "calm fortitude with which he waged a prolonged battle against his illness was truly remarkable," the Cabinet said and sent its condolences to his wife, Mallika Maran, sons, Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi, and daughter, Anbukkarasi.

In his message, the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, said Maran was a multi-faceted personality, who contributed to the nation in various capacities during his career. "He was an able newspaper editor, a versatile film writer and producer, a distinguished parliamentarian for over three decades and a person committed to economic reforms in the country. As a Minister in the Government of India, he has made significant contributions to the field of commerce and industry." Mr. Kalam also spoke to Dayanidhi Maran over telephone.

The Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, recalled his long association with Maran and said that in his passing away the NDA Government had lost a very competent Minister and Tamil Nadu politics a stalwart.

The Lok Sabha Speaker, Manohar Joshi, the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, the Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, the Agriculture Minister, Rajnath Singh, the Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, S.S. Dhindsa, were among the others who paid tributes.

The Confederation of Indian Industry, in a condolence message, said the country had lost an outstanding negotiator. "Maran was not only India's voice at Doha, but made the world stand up and take notice of the issues concerning the developing country." Describing Maran as a votary of liberalisation and reforms, the CII president, Anand Mahindra, said that "a tribute to him would be to take forward his vision and agenda for India."

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