Patna: Bagun Sumbrai, a veteran Congress politician from Jharkhand known for his spartan life-style, died after a prolonged illness on Friday evening at a local hospital.

The former parliamentarian, whose political career spanned five decades, was 94. He leaves behind dozens of wives.

“He died after prolonged illness at 6.15pm on Friday evening,” his son Bimal Sumbrai told the media. “It’s a great loss for our family.”

Sumbrai was admitted to Tata Main Hospital on May 2 after experiencing breathing and urinary tract problems.

Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das expressed grief over Sumbrai’s death.

“He had hoisted the flag of Gandhism high in Jharkhand,” Das said in his condolence message. “His demise has created a vacuum in Jharkhand politics which will never be filled.”

Sumbrai, who entered politics in 1967, was the pioneer of the Jharkhand movement and the voice of the tribal community from which he hailed.

He was famous for not losing parliamentary elections in the Singhbum constituency in Jharkhand. He was elected to parliament and state assembles five and four times respectively.

He spent his entire life wrapped in only a dhoti (a traditional garment that men wrap around the waist and legs)

He also made the headlines for marrying scores of women but claimed he did so to save them from being harassed.

He was believed to have married at least 60 women in his lifetime and said on record that there was no harm in marrying young women if it was for a good cause.

“Earlier outsiders used to harass poor gullible tribal girls. I gave them my name as [a] husband so that they can lead a normal life,” Sumbrai claimed in a media interview.

He also offered a unique argument to prove his point.

“Krishna [a prominent Hindu deity] is my inspiration. He married 1,600 women and the world worships him. In tribal society too, polygamy is not a taboo,” he said in one of his interviews.

“I don’t run after girls or women. Rather, they run after me. If they find something attractive in me, what can I do? I cannot disappoint anyone who wants to marry me.”