Ashok Gasti, a BJP Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, has died due to COVID-19, a hospital confirmed on Thursday, hours after confusion caused by condolence tweets posted by top politicians.
The 55-year-old was critically ill and was admitted to Manipal Hospital.
Dr Manish Rai, the hospital's director, said in a statement that the MP died at 10.31 PM.
The hospital said the Rajya Sabha member was admitted with severe COVID-19 pneumonia and was critical after multi-organ failure. He was on life support in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Mr Gasti was from Raichur in north Karnataka and was previously a booth-level worker.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Mr Gasti a "dedicated karyakarta" and condoled his death on Twitter:
Rajya Sabha MP Shri Ashok Gasti was a dedicated Karyakarta who worked hard to strengthen the Party in Karnataka. He was passionate about empowering the poor and marginalised sections of society. Anguished by his passing away. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 17, 2020
After his unopposed election in June this year, Mr Gasti had not attended Parliament due to the pandemic. He was a first-time Rajya Sabha member.
At the time of his nomination, Mr Gasti had told NDTV, "This is a very happy event. A booth level worker has been recognised like this. This kind of recognition is possible only in the BJP. This has given a lot of enthusiasm to lakhs of BJP workers. I want to thank all the BJP leaders."
Condolences started pouring in on Twitter after Mr Gasti's death.
"Shocked and pained on the untimely demise of Rajya Sabha MP and senior BJP leader from Karnataka, Shri Ashok Gasti ji. Over the years, he served the organization & nation in multiple roles. My deepest condolences are with his family in this hour of grief. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti," Amit Shah tweeted.
Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu expressed his grief and said Mr Gasti was known "for his simplicity and commitment for the upliftment of the downtrodden".
Deeply saddened to learn about the demise of Shri Ashok Gasti, Rajya Sabha Member. He was known for his simplicity and commitment for the upliftment of the downtrodden. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members. Om Shanti!— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) September 17, 2020
Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing way of Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka Shri. Ashok Gasti. My condolences to his family and friends."
The leaders had tweeted earlier in the day as well but later deleted the tweets.