Congress MP dies of heart attack during Rahul Gandhi's cross-India march

Santokh Singh Chaudhary, the MP from Punjab's Jalandhar, was 76 years old

News Desk
Published : 14 Jan 2023, 07:30 AM
Updated : 14 Jan 2023, 07:30 AM

Congress MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary has died of a heart attack in India's Punjab during the Bharat Jodo Yatra (Unite India Rally) march led by Rahul Gandhi, Indian broadcaster NDTV reports.

The party's MP from Jalandhar, collapsed during the march in Punjab's Phillaur on Saturday. He was subsequently taken to a hospital in Phagwara in an ambulance, but the doctors could not save him. The politician was 76 years old.

Rahul Gandhi, who was leading the march, left the march midway and rushed to the hospital where the veteran Congress leader had been taken, a party leader told NDTV. Gandhi is likely to meet Chaudhary's family at his home in Jalandhar later today.

Gandhi later shared a photo collage from Saturday’s march in which Chaudhary is seen walking with him and other party members.

The march has been suspended for now, said Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, adding Chaudhary's cremation will be held on Sunday morning.

The "Unite India Rally" march began in September in the coastal town of Kanyakumari on the southern tip of India. It plans to cover more than 3,500 km to reach Srinagar, the northernmost Himalayan region of Kashmir, in about 150 days.

Leading the march, Gandhi is hoping to repair the battered image of his Congress party and take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dominant Bharatiya Janata Party.

Gandhi's gruelling march is a throwback to the padayatras or foot journeys through the rural heartland by past leaders, including independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, nearly a century ago. The two Gandhis are not related.

Polling agency CVoter, which has tracked Gandhi's approval ratings in nine states - four of which will hold local elections this year - as part of nationwide monthly surveys of 30,000 respondents, found the Congress leader's popularity has risen markedly in most states through which he has marched, Reuters reported.