Marxist leader and West Bengal Power Minister Mrinal Banerjee died here on Wednesday after a prolonged illness. He was 72 and is survived by his wife.

Mr. Banerjee was admitted to a city hospital on January 28 in a critical condition. Hospital authorities said he died following multiple organ failure with sepsis in the background of malignancy.

Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said the State government had announced a half-day holiday to mourn him.

In a statement, Governor M.K. Narayanan said Mr. Banerjee’s valuable contribution to the progress and development of the State would always be remembered.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee described him as a leader of the working class.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee asked her party men to cut short a pre-scheduled rally in the city, to condole the death.

Mr. Mrinal Banerjee was engaged in trade union activities and held the posts of general secretary of the Steel Workers Federation of India and secretary of the West Bengal State Committee of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions. He had been elected thrice from Durgapur I to the Assembly since 1996.