NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s environment minister died on Thursday, depriving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of a key figure as it considers whether to approve the country’s first genetically modified food crop.
Anil Madhav Dave, 60, died at a New Delhi hospital after complaining of feeling unwell, a day after attending a cabinet meeting.
The two-term lawmaker from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, a veteran of Hindu-nationalist umbrella group the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, was named last year as minister for the environment, forest and climate change.
Dave had been due to take a final call on an application for an indigenously developed GM crop of mustard, which is similar to rapeseed. A ministry panel recently recommended allowing commercial cultivation of the oilseed.
“I was with Anil Madhav Daveji till late last evening, discussing key policy issues. This demise is a personal loss,” Modi said on social network Twitter, employing an honorific suffix widely used in India.
(Reporting by Malini Menon; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Clarence Fernandez)