Kumar was born to Marudevi Avva and Padmaprabha Gowder, a leader of Socialist Party on July 22, 1936, in Wayanad's Kalpetta and was arrested during the Emergency. He is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son, M V Shreyams Kumar, who is the Joint Managing Director of Mathrubhumi.
Veerendra Kumar was elected to the Kerala Legislative Assembly in 1987 and to the Lok Sabha twice. In 1996, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kozhikode constituency and served as Minister of State (MoS) for Labour and later Finance. He was also elected to the Rajya Sabha in the elections held for the lone seat from Kerala in March 2018.
Former Defence Minister A.K. Antony said he has lost a close friend and a "teacher".
"When I was the President of the Kerala Students Union in 1964, I met him first and thus began a long journey with him, even though we belonged to different parties. It was just two days back I spoke to him and he looked cheerful. Now the reality is he is no more, I have lost a close friend," said Antony.
His last rites will be held at Wayanad tomorrow.
Veerendra Kumar had served thrice as the Chairman of Press Trust of India, and at the time of his death was one of the directors in the news agency's board.