Hundreds of mourners, including leaders, paid a tearful homage to H. Vasanthakumar, Kanniyakumari MP and businessman, in Chennai on Saturday.
AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy and TNCC president K.S. Alagiri were among those who paid their respects at Kamaraj Bhavan in Teynampet, where his body was kept before being taken by road to his hometown Agastheeswaram in Kanniyakumari.
An eerie silence prevailed in Agastheeswaram, which lost one of its illustrious sons, who rose from humble beginnings to build a retail business empire, Vasanth and Co, and also succeeded in politics. The TNCC working president died on Friday in a hospital where he was admitted for treatment of COVID-19.
Vasanthakumar’s cousins had placed his portrait in front of his house to enable locals to pay their last respects.
Since the mortal remains of the ancestors and parents of Vasanthakumar have been buried in a farm near the village, the MP’s family decided to bury his mortal remains in the adjoining land. “The family wants to construct a fitting memorial there,” a source close to the family said.
Led by the Tamil Nadu government’s special representative in Delhi N. Thalavai Sundaram, a group of AIADMK functionaries and a few Roman Catholic priests offered prayers at his office in Thovalai.
A generous MP
Although the Centre had suspended the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme fund in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Vasanthakumar had been spending his salary for the education of poor students, locals said. He was assisting the poor by meeting their medical expenses and giving them money for the construction of their houses.
“When a peepal tree got uprooted and fell on a few houses and the shops at Thirunanthikkarai on a windy day of last month, he met the affected people and helped them with his personal funds,” recalled a resident.
The most striking feature of Vasanthakumar was that he would impartially interact with cadres and office-bearers of all political parties and help them in the best possible way.
“I may have been elected to Parliament as a Congress member, but I am a common man and the representative of every resident of Kanniyakumari district. So I should help them whenever they approach me,” he would say.
The earthmover that was purchased with his personal funds for removing thorny bushes in his erstwhile Nanguneri Assembly constituency and then for desilting the irrigation tanks was moved to Kanniyakumari Parliamentary segment after he was elected as an MP for carrying out similar works there.
“If we want to use the heavy equipment for a desilting work in a village, a responsible person from the hamlet should register in his office in advance. Within a couple of days, either Vasanthakumar or his men would visit the spot and send the earthmover for the work for which the beneficiary farmers or the villagers need not pay anything,” recalls S. Murugan of Nagercoil.
During one of the recent casual chats, Vasanthakumar said the Congress should identify more number of Assembly segments for 2021 Assembly polls and make an all-out effort to get the seats from the DMK so that the national party could start the Assembly election work early.