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BJP leader Ashok Gasti, first-time Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, dies of Covid

55-year-old BJP leader Ashok Gasti had been battling a severe Covid infection since 2 September. He could not attend any session of Parliament.

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Bengaluru: Ashok Gasti, a first-time Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka, died of complications related to Covid-19 at a private hospital in Bengaluru late Thursday. He was 55.

The BJP leader had been battling a severe Covid infection since 2 September, and remained critical for over a week, said sources in the Manipal Hospital where Gasti had been kept in the intensive care unit.

Gasti had taken oath as MP less than two months ago. He could not attend any Parliament session.

Confusion on social media

On Thursday, confusion prevailed over the health status of Gasti as President Ram Nath Kovind and senior BJP leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted condolence messages amid social media buzz about his death early in the evening.

However, the hospital released a statement saying Gasti was still on ventilator. The leaders then deleted their messages.

In a statement issued late Thursday night, the hospital said Gasti died at 10.31 pm.

In a tweet expressing grief over his death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him a “dedicated karyakarta” who was “passionate” about “empowering the poor and marginalised”. Other leaders joined him in posting condolence messages.


Also read: Home Minister Amit Shah discharged from AIIMS after five days


Who was Ashok Gasti?

Gasti, a senior member of the BJP with deep ties to the RSS, was a popular leader from Raichur in north Karnataka. He rose through the ranks first as an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and later as a young BJP leader heading the Karnataka Yuva Morcha. He belonged to the Savita Samaj.

Gasti, a lawyer, also served as the general secretary of the BJP’s OBC cell, and the chairperson of the State Backward Class Development Corporation.

He was one of the surprise candidates named by the central BJP leadership for Rajya Sabha in June. Seen as a dedicated RSS worker, Gasti found recognition when BJP national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh suggested his name for the Upper House seat. He took oath on 22 July.

After his nomination was announced, Gasti had told ThePrint, “I am extremely thrilled that even a booth-level worker like me can get such a high recognition. This is the beauty of the BJP party. A humble dedicated worker will also get recognition when the time is right. This will inspire many more young leaders and karyakartas to work hard.”

Speaking about his untimely demise, Karnataka BJP spokesperson S. Prakash called him “a fine leader who was very popular with the people”. “It is unfortunate that he could not even attend a single session in Parliament. He would have made a wonderful Parliamentarian.”

This report has been updated to correct the time of Gasti’s death.


Also read: In this key Punjab government hospital, 1 in 4 Covid patients have died since March


 

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