Thiruvanathapuram: Kerala food and civil supplies minister T M Jacob died Sunday night at a private hospital in Kochi, officials said.
He was 61 and is survived by wife, a son and a daughter.
The Kerala Congress (Jacob) leader was under treatment for pulmonary hypertension and was hospitalised a few days ago.
Jacob was active in Kerala politics for more than three decades and had handled education and irrigation portfolios in the previous UDF governments headed by K Karunakaran and A K Antony.
Widely recognised as an able administrator and skilled legislator, he entered politics as an activist of the Kerala Congress’ student wing in the 1960s. He served as the general secretary of the Kerala Congress Students (KSC) wing and later became president of the youth wing.
He was first elected in 1977 from Piravom constituency, and was re-elected from the same constituency in 2011 assembly elections.
Expressing grief at his demise, chief minister Oommen Chandy said, “This is quite unexpected and a big blow to the government and the UDF coalition as a whole.”
Assembly speaker G Karthikeyan also expressed grief over the death. In a message, Karthikeyan said in the passing away of Jacob, Kerala has lost an effective legislator and a very good administrator who had proved his ability over the years.
Jacob first became minister in the 1982-87 Karunakaran government in charge of education.
From 1991 to 1995 he served as water resources minister in the UDF ministry led by Karunakaran and A K Antony.
A gifted orator and studious legislator, whether in government or in the opposition, Jacob had always displayed his skill and firm grip of various subjects during discussions on important legislations in the state assembly for over three decades.
Jacob was elected to the assembly from Piravam in 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2011 and from Kothamangalam in 1980, 1982 and 1987.
When the Kerala Congress split in 1980s, Jacob was with the Kerala Congress (Mani) faction. But later, he formed his own faction of Kerala Congress and continued as a partner in the UDF.
He was also briefly with the Democratic Indira Congress (Karunakaran), formed by late Congress stalwart K Karunakaran, but revived Kerala Congress (Jacob) after Karunakaran and his son returned to the Congress.