IUML leader G.M. Banatwala is dead (Lead)

June 25th, 2008 - 10:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai/Thiruvananthapuram, June 25 (IANS) Veteran politician and educationist G.M. Banatwala, president of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), died here Wednesday after a brief illness. He was 74, an aide said. The seven-time member of the Lok Sabha died when his relatives tried to take him to a hospital after he felt uneasy.

A widower, his wife had died a few years ago. The couple had no children. He considered his three brothers and their children as his family.

Banatwala’s funeral will take place at the Narielwadi Sunni cemetery in south Mumbai Thursday morning, the aide told IANS.

Banatwala returned to Mumbai, where he lived, last week from Chennai after taking part in the platinum jubilee celebrations of the IUML.

Since then, he had suffered breathing problems, uneasiness, fever and related ailments.

A firebrand orator and an intellectual, the IUML leader represented Ponnani Lok Sabha constituency of Malappuram district in Kerala for seven terms.

A teacher by profession, Banatwala was first elected to the Maharashtra assembly in 1967. He remained a member for 10 long years before getting elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1977 general elections.

He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha six more times — in 1980, 1984, 1989, 1996, 1998 and 1999. During his term as an MP, Banatwala was a member of several parliamentary committees.

A prolific writer in English and Urdu, Banatwala wrote and spoke extensively on issues concerning the minorities and parliamentary history.

Although a Mumbaite, he was a popular face in Kerala politics. He was one of the most respected moderates in Muslim politics.

“This is a huge blow to all of us and to the Muslim community. He always raised his voice for the minorities,” IUML Kerala state secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty told IANS.

“He was very active and was in Chennai two days back attending a huge meeting. I even spoke to him today morning,” Kunhalikutty added.

“His performance in the Lok Sabha was exemplary,” said M.M. Hassan, a Congress leader in Kerala.

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