<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, one of the most charismatic leaders of his time passed away on Monday afternoon. He was languishing in a coma since October 12, 2008. He was 72 years old. Affectionately, known as Priya-da in political circles, Dasmunsi cut his teeth in politics through students movements. He was born in 1945, in Chirirbander in Dinajpur East district, now in BangladeshIn 1970, Dasmunsi became the president of the state Youth Congress and a member of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) at the age of 25. He became MP in 1971, contesting from South Kolkata. In 1984, he won from Howrah seat . However he lost from there in 1989 and 1991. Overcoming his losing streak, Dasmunsi won consecutively thrice from ’96 to 2004. Though in the last two polls, he contested from Raigaunj. The West Bengal Congress leader was elected a member of the all-powerful Congress Working Committee in 1977 and was the Union Minister of State for Commerce from 1985 to 1989.He was also the West Bengal Congress chief in 1985. He was also head of AIFF for 19 years, when Indian football started taking nascent steps towards a professional setup. Known for his affable nature, Dasmunsi had friends across the aisle. His brightest moment in his political career was being appointed as Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs in November 2005 after a brief stint as Union Cabinet minister for water resources.As I&B Minister, Dasmunsi attracted controversy over handling of the protests regarding Da Vinci Code. It was withheld certification by Dasmunsi before being showed to a representative of the Catholic community. The minister faced flak for it.(Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi consoles Dipa Dasmunsi, the wife of veteran Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi-PTI)Apart from politics, Dasmunsi also took keen interest in sports and art and culture. He headed the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for 19 years, till he fell ill in 2008 and had been in hospital ever since. Under Dasmunsi, Indian football took the infant steps towards a professional set-up, which is in place now. Under him, the National Football League started in 1996 (which was rechristened I-League in 2007). Dasmunsi earned a rare distinction during his tenure when in 2006, FIFA named him the match commissioner for a group stage game between Australia and Croatia in the 2006 World Cup. Dasmunsi was also a member of the Asian Football Confederation’s Executive Committee.President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi condoled the death of the former minister. “Sad to hear about the demise of former Union Minister and veteran political leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi. He contributed much to Bengal and to the administration of football in our country,” President Kovind said. Prime Minister Modi described him as a popular leader with rich political and administrative experience. “He did notable work to popularise football in India. Saddened by his demise. My thoughts are with Deepa Dasmunsi ji and family as well as his supporters,” Modi tweeted. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in her message, termed his death an “irreparable loss” to the party.What set Dasmunsi apart from many of his contemporaries was the power to get his work done despite obstacles. He was politically cunning, a fierce fighter but never bitter about his politics. Dasmunsi’s wife Deepa has carried forward his political legacy working from Raigaunj. Congress may now be a marginal force in Bengal, but Priyaranjan Dasmunsi’s achievements will be remembered for a long time. With PTI inputs

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Remembering Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi – the man who juggled politics and football with elan