In just two weeks, 2020 will come to an end—but it will never be forgotten, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and the months spent indoors owing to the lockdown. Not only will be etched in our memories forever, but it will also act as a life lesson to not take things for granted.
2020 was a year of losses for Indian politics. Several stalwarts, including Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, and founder of Lok Jan Shakti Party Ram Vilas Paswan, passed away in 2020.
Here's a look at some of the noted politicians we've lost in 2020:
Former President of India and Congress party veteran Pranab Mukherjee passed away on August 31 at the age of 84. The veteran politician, who spent five decades in politics, had undergone brain surgery at Delhi's Army Research and Referral hospital. The hospital said his health began declining after a lung infection resulted in septic shock. Mukherjee, who had also tested positive for coronavirus, was admitted to the hospital on August 10.
In his over five-decade-long political career, Mukherjee held various Cabinet positions for the governments led by Indira Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao, and Manmohan Singh. Under the UPA, Mukherjee was minister of defence, external affairs, and finance starting 2004 and the Congress’ strategist in parliament until his journey as a parliamentarian ended in July 2012 when he became the 13th President of the Indian Republic.
Ram Vilas Paswan
Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, serving as the minister for consumer affairs, food, and public distribution in the Narendra Modi government, and leader of the Lok Janashakti Party, passed away on October 8. He was 74. The leader from Bihar had undergone heart surgery in a Delhi hospital and was due for another one in a few days.
A stalwart of the socialist movement who later emerged as Bihar's foremost Dalit leader with following across the country, Ram Vilas Paswan was instrumental in the implementation of the Mandal Commission report in the 1990s.
Born in Khagaria in 1946, he was elected to Lok Sabha eight times and also held the record of winning his constituency, Hajipur, with the highest margin for several years. He was a minister in central governments headed by parties of contrasting ideological persuasions, ranging from the Janata Dal to the Congress and the BJP, since 1989.
Whoever might be his ally, he took pride in describing himself as a socialist and secular politician by conviction. He served as a minister in governments headed by V P Singh, H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujaral, Atal Bihar Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, and now Narendra Modi.
Senior Congress leader and the party's top strategist Ahmed Patel died in a Gurugram hospital on November 25. He was suffering from complications related to COVID-19. He had been admitted to the Medanta Hospital and was in the ICU upon being diagnosed with COVID-19.
"AP" to his friends and "Ahmed Bhai" to colleagues, Patel was one of the closest aides of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary for a long time. He was the trouble-shooter of the Congress and had steered the party out of ticklish situations many a time. He was the grand old party's pointsman for building consensus on key issues with other parties and leaders. A soft-spoken and affable man, Patel was well respected and had friends across the aisle and in different spheres.
Patel was a member of the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. He was an eight-time parliamentarian -- five times in the Rajya Sabha, three times in the Lok Sabha. His last Rajya Sabha election in 2017 was contested very keenly amid charges of horse-trading.
Patel began his political career by contesting the local body polls in Gujarat's Bharuch district in 1976. He became a Lok Sabha MP in March 1977 and was a member of the sixth, seventh and eighth Lok Sabha till 1989. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha for the first time in August 1993.
Former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi passed away on November 23 after suffering from Covid-19-related complications. Gogoi had been admitted to Guwahati Medical College Hospital since November 2 with post-Covid complications and was on non-invasive ventilation. He had tested positive for Covid-19 on August 25 and was discharged from the hospital on October 25.
Gogoi was the MLA from the Titabor assembly constituency since 2001. He was also a six-time parliamentarian and became Union minister twice.
Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh passed away at the age of 64 after a prolonged illness at a private hospital in Singapore on August 1. Singh, 64, had undergone a kidney transplant in 2011 and was not keeping well for a long time. He was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Singapore for several months.
Born on January 27, 1956 at Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, Amar Singh was also known for his contacts in the business and film industry.
Amar Singh was a key leader in the Samajwadi Party at a time when the party moved to support the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2008 after the Communist Party of India withdrew from the government over a nuclear deal with the US.
However, in 2010, he, along with close associate Jaya Prada, was expelled from the Samajwadi Party for anti-party activities. He floated his own party Rashtriya Lok Manch in 2011 and fielded candidates in 360 of the 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh in the 2012 assembly polls. However, his party did not win a single seat in these elections. In 2016, he was elected to Rajya Sabha with support from Samajwadi Party even after facing stiff opposition from a section of the party including the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav.
Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon passed away on July 21 after a prolonged illness. He was 85. Tandon was admitted to the hospital after complaining of breathing problems, difficulty in urination, and fever.
A veteran BJP leader belonging to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani-era, Lalji Tandon had earlier served as a cabinet minister in Uttar Pradesh. He had taken oath as the Madhya Pradesh governor on July 29 last year after serving on the same post in Bihar for nearly 11 months.
Tandon kept an open house and never hemmed in himself in political boundaries. His friends were found in every party and he would hold impromptu chat sessions with them on an almost daily basis.