Calcutta, June 2: Former Union minister Tapan Sikdar, the first BJP MP from Bengal, died early today at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences following a heart attack.
He was 70.
The veteran BJP leader was suffering from kidney problems for some time and had been admitted to a private hospital off EM Bypass on May 18. He was flown to Delhi on Thursday for treatment at AIIMS.
Sikdar’s body was taken to the BJP office in Delhi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, Union home minister Rajnath Singh and others paid their last respects.
Governor M.K. Narayanan offered his condolences.
Sikdar was elected the BJP MP from Dum Dum in 1998, becoming the first party leader to win in Bengal. He was re-elected in 1999 and was made junior minister of communications and later, the chemicals and fertilisers minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government
Originally hailing from Malda, Sikdar was the architect of the BJP’s growth in Bengal in the 1990s as the state unit president.
Bengal BJP sources said the body would be kept at the party’s central Calcutta headquarters between 10am and 11am tomorrow for party workers to pay their last respects.
Sikdar had lost the Dum Dum Lok Sabha seat this time, but bagged over 2.5 lakh votes.
State BJP president Rahul Sinha said: “Tapanda was seriously ill but still agreed to contest the election and even campaigned vigorously. His demise is a big setback to the BJP in Bengal.”