Karnataka Minister Umesh Katti, who died due to heart attack, was laid to rest with full state honours, and the state government has declared state mourning till September 9, across the state, as a mark of respect to the departed leader.
Hundreds of people took part in the final journey of the 61-year-old minister for food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, and forest, from Belagavi to his native Belladbagewadi in Hukkeri taluk, where last rites were performed as per Veerashaiva-Lingayat traditions, on Wednesday.
The state government had declared a holiday today to all schools and colleges, along with government offices in Belagavi district, as a mark of respect to Katti, who was an eight-time MLA from Hukkeri assembly constituency.
Katti had died due to heart attack at a private hospital in Bengaluru on Tuesday night. He is survived by wife, son and daughter.
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According to sources, Katti collapsed in the bathroom of his ‘Dollar’s Colony’ residence here and was rushed to the hospital.
Earlier in the day, his mortal remains were flown by air to Belagavi, from where it was taken in a decked up military vehicle to his native village of Belladbagewadi, where the last rites were performed late in the evening.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, former Chief Ministers B S Yediyurappa and Siddaramaiah, several of Bommai’s cabinet colleagues, legislators and BJP leaders were present.
The government had earlier announced one-day state mourning across Karnataka, but it was later extended till September 9.
During the period of state mourning, no official entertainment programmes will be conducted and the national flag will be flown at half mast on all official buildings and places, the notification said.
Bommai in Belagavi said the state government has decided to observe three days of state mourning from today. Other than works related to the management of floods and other emergencies, there will be no official functions on these days.
Also BJP’s ‘Janotsava’ rally to mark the completion of the party being in power for three years and his government’s one year in office, in Doddaballapura scheduled for Thursday, has been postponed to September 11, he said, as he emotionally recalled his long association with Katti, calling him a ”close friend and brother”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet said, ”Shri Umesh Katti Ji was an experienced leader who made rich contributions to Karnataka’s development. Pained by his demise. My thoughts are with his family and supporters in this tragic hour. Om Shanti.” Katti had entered politics following the death of his father Vishwanath Katti in 1985, and went on to become MLA from Hukkeri eight times and also served as Minister in various governments.
Before joining the BJP in 2008, he was with the Janata Party, Janata Dal, JD(U) and JD(S), and had served as a minister in the Cabinet headed by J H Patel, B S Yediyurappa, D V Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettar.
Katti was a dominant figure in politics of Belagavi, considered to be one of the most politically significant districts in the state.
He was often in news for his statements demanding statehood for the north Karnataka region and also for openly expressing his chief ministerial ambitions.