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Tuesday, Jan 13, 2004

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Ramakrishna Hegde passes away

By Our Special Correspondent


BANGALORE, JAN. 12. The former Karnataka Chief Minister and Janata Dal leader, Ramakrishna Hegde, died here today at his residence following a stroke that caused brain haemorrhage. He was 77. He is survived by his wife, Shakuntala, son, Bharat, and daughters, Mamata and Samata.

Family sources told that Mr. Hegde, who was bedridden for several months, complained of uneasiness around midnight and slipped into a coma.

Doctors administered life-saving drugs but in vain. The end came around 2 p.m.

As the news spread, scores of Mr. Hegde's followers, particularly from all the Janata Dal parties, thronged his residence. Family sources said the cremation would take place at their Hesarghatta farm at 2.30 p.m. tomorrow. Several Union Ministers and senior politicians are expected to attend the funeral.

The Karnataka Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, was one of the early callers at Mr. Hegde's residence. He was followed by the former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) president, H.D. Deve Gowda. Most of the Cabinet Ministers and senior "Janata Parivar" leaders, P.G.R. Sindhia, M.P. Prakash, Ramesh Kumar, and K.N. Nage Gowda, were present. Vijay Mallya, MP and Janata Party working president, a close follower of Mr. Hegde, rushed to Bangalore from Karwar.

In a recent interview to , Mr. Hegde had said that his last ambition was to see a Janata Dal government and that he would love to strive to strengthen the party. His followers and personal staff had stated that Mr. Hegde would resume party work after sankranthi. A few months ago, Mr. Hegde expressed the desire to address election meetings during the byelection to the Hungund and Vemgal Assembly constituencies. But his health deteriorated following a lung infection.

Mr. Hegde underwent a brain surgery early last year at a hospital in London and returned to Bangalore in April.

He was admitted to hospital several times. He had even been taken to an ayurvedic resort at Hoskote, near here.

Mr. Hegde served as a leader of the All-India Progressive Janata Dal from his bed. It was Mr. Hegde who appointed the late C. Byre Gowda as president of the AIPJD State unit and, subsequently, appointed K.N. Nage Gowda to the post after Byre Gowda's death.

Holiday declared

The State Government has declared a holiday tomorrow as a mark of respect to Mr. Hegde. All schools and colleges will remain closed. It also declared a three-day State mourning.

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