Veerapandi S. Arumugam, former Agriculture Minister and a prominent leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), died on Friday at a private hospital after a brief illness.
He was 73. He is survived by two spouses, two sons including former MLA A. Raja and a daughter.
For over 20 years, he was the face of the DMK in the Salem district and even at the time of death, he held the powerful post of Salem District Secretary.
Mr Arumugam, who was first elected to the Assembly from the Veerpandi constituency in 1962, won five times later. When the DMK captured power in 1989 after a gap of 13 years, he became Minister for the first time. In 1996 and 2006 when the DMK returned to power, he held the portfolio of Agriculture.
In the 2011 Assembly elections, the DMK leader lost to his niece and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam nominee Vijayalakshmi P. Palanisamy in the Sankari constituency by a margin of about 35,000 votes.
After the AIADMK came to power in May 2011, he was arrested in connection with several cases of land grabbing. Only a month ago, Mr Arumugam was released after a four-month-long detention at the Vellore Jail under under the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-offenders, Forest-offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders and Slum-grabbers Act, popularly called Goondas Act. His detention was quashed by the Madras High Court.