RAIGARH: Veteran Congress leader and former Chhattisgarh minister Chanesh Ram Rathiya died of COVID-19 at a hospital in Raigarh in the early hours of Monday, a health official said. He was 78.
"Rathiya, who was suffering from age-related ailments, was admitted in a private hospital here on Saturday after testing positive for coronavirus. He died at around 1 am," Raigarh Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr S N Keshari said.
The leader is survived by his wife, two sons and three daughters.
Rathiya, a prominent tribal leader from north Chhattisgarh, was elected as an MLA for the first time in 1977 from Dharamjaigarh constituency in the then undivided Madhya Pradesh.
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He subsequently won five more Assembly elections in a row from the same seat.
He served as animal husbandry minister in the Digvijay Singh led-Congress government in erstwhile Madhya Pradesh, and was the food and civil supplies minister in the Ajit Jogi government (2000-2003) after the formation of Chhattisgarh in 2000.
His elder son Laljeet Singh Rathiya is currently a Congress legislator from Dharamjaigarh seat in Chhattisgarh.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel expressed grief over Rathiya's death.
"Deeply saddened to hear about the demise of former minister and prominent tribal leader Chanesh Ram Rathiya ji. He will always be remembered in Dharamjaigarh and the entire state for serving people," Baghel tweeted.