Indira Hridayesh, the senior-most Congress politician of Uttarakhand who was the leader of the Opposition in the hill state and had served as an elected representative for seven terms, passed away following cardiac arrest in New Delhi on Sunday. She was 80.
“Indiraji had put up at the guest house of the Uttarakhand government in New Delhi where she had gone for a party meeting. She suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, where she breathed her last,” said Suryakant Dhasmana, the vice-president of the Uttarakhand Congress Committee.
Hridayesh had tested positive for Covid-19 in April this year and had undergone a heart surgery after recovery.
Hridayesh’s officer on special duty Abhinav Mishra said her last rites would be conducted on Monday in her hometown Haldwani, which she represented as an MLA.
Hridayesh had been a four-term member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council (Upper House) before Uttarakhand was carved out in 2000. In Uttarakhand, she was elected MLA from Haldwani three times — in 2002, 2012 and 2017.
Amid speculation that the Congress could return to power in Uttarakhand in 2022 because of the BJP’s perceived failure on all fronts, Hridayesh had told reporters in Haldwani on May 8: “The Congress leadership knows very well who can bring the party back to power in the state. There are many important faces here. Pritam Singh, the state president of the party, is there. Harish Rawat, who had been chief minister, is also an important face. Obviously, I am there as a senior member. It will be decided after the elections.”
Rawat said on Sunday: “She was the first finance minister of Uttarakhand and played a major role in shaping the state. She was a teacher before joining politics and was respected by all. Members of both the government and the Opposition used to remain alert in the House whenever she was present.”
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said: “She was particularly popular amongst her colleagues for her knowledge of legislative processes and procedure as also her performance as an able administrator. Her contribution to the Congress party will be treasured and cherished by all.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Dr Indira Hridayesh Ji was at the forefront of several community service efforts. She made a mark as an effective legislator and also had rich administrative experience. Saddened by her demise. Condolences to her family and supporters. Om Shanti.”