Assam, April 19: Veteran politician and former Chief Minister of Assam Dr Bhumidhar Barman breathed his last at a private hospital in the city here on Sunday evening after a prolonged illness.

He was 89. Dr Barman had been on ventilation at the ICU since April 13. He passed away at 6.23 pm on Sunday at the hospital following multiple organs failure.

Born on October 12 in 1931 at Belsor, a village of then undivided Kamrup district (now Nalbari district) Dr Barman led a very down-to-earth life.

Despite his successful political career and hectic schedule he was always found to be close to the people of his village and constituency.

Being a doctor he used to treat people during his political career. Till the last part of his life, Dr Barman used to devote time to cow farming and agriculture activities in his native village in the Nalbari district.

Dr Barman had been elected as a member of the Assam Legislative Assembly seven times. He was first elected in 1967 from Paschim Nalbari (now Dharmapur) Assembly constituency.

He was an MLA from 1967-1972, 1972-1978, 1983-1985, 1991-1996, 2001-2006, 2006-2011 and 2011-2016. He became the Chief Minister of Assam for a brief stint after the death of the then Chief Minister late Hiteshwar Saikia. He was also the acting Chief Minister when then the CM late Tarun Gogoi was hospitalized in Mumbai for heart surgery in 2010.

During his political career, he held several key portfolios including Health, Revenue, Assam Accord Implementation, and Panchayat and Rural Development. He had a providential escape when the ULFA launched an attack on him.

Dr Barman passed his matriculation from Tihu High School in 1951.

He was among the last batch of students to have passed out from Calcutta University. He used to wear Khadi outfits and his friends used to call him “Little Gandhi“.

He passed his MBBS from the Assam Medical College & Hospital, Dibrugarh in 1958. He used to show his leadership quality from his school life. He became the general secretary of the students’ union of Tihu High School in 1949.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deeply condoled the death of Dr Barman. “Anguished by the passing away of former Assam CM and senior politician, Shri Bhumidhar Barman. My thoughts are with his family and supporters in this hour of grief,” the PM tweeted.

Assam Governor Prof. Jagdish Mukhi in a condolence message said, “I am saddened to hear the demise of former Chief Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman. A veteran leader who contributed immensely to the development of the state and taking it all together to a great height. Dr Barman during his long political career worked for all sections of the society and used his administrative and political wisdom for the betterment of the State.”

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that the state has lost an experienced and capable politician with the death of Dr Barman and the people of Assam will always remember his committed service and contributions to the State.

Today we lost a stalwart of Assam politics – former CM and 7-time MLA Bhumidhar Barman. I have fond memories of his guidance and affection, starting with my early political career. He leaves behind a rich legacy of good politics & work. We shall miss him. My condolences,” Cabinet Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has tweeted.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Ripun Bora has expressed his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members of Late Dr Bhumidhar Barman and wished that the departed soul will rest in eternal peace.

In another statement, the APCC chairperson of media department Bobbeeta Sharma said that “in recent times despite his growing years Dr Barman was active in politics and would be busy campaigning and attending party meetings to guide the party”.

AICC general secretary in charge of Assam Jitendra Singh has expressed his heartfelt condolences at the demise of Dr Barman who was like a guiding light for Assam Congress.

The AGP president Atul Bora, AGP working president Keshab Mahanta, AGP senior leader Phani Bhusan Choudhury, State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia, AJP president Lurinjyoti Gogoi, Cabinet Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, Raijor Dal, and the AAMSU have also deeply condoled the death of Dr Barman.

The State Government has declared three-day state mourning as a mark of respect to Dr Barman. During this period the national flag will be flown half-mast in all offices where it is flown regularly and no official entertainment will be held during this period.

The body of Dr Barman will be cremated with full state honour at his birthplace at Belsor in the Nalbari district on Monday.