Former Union minister, freedom fighter and environmentalist Mohan Dharia, who quit the Indira Gandhi government against imposition of Emergency, died on Monday of chronic kidney failure. He was 88.
Dharia is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
He was admitted to Poona Hospital on Saturday and underwent dialysis. However, his condition deteriorated and he breathed his last at 7.55 am, doctors attending on him said.
He would be accorded a state funeral later this evening.
A socialist at heart, Dharia was minister of state for planning, housing and urban development in the Indira Gandhi government in 1971-75.
A fierce critic of the Emergency, he was the first Union minister to resign from his post and join the movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan which culminated in the fall of Indira Gandhi government and installation of the first non-Congress dispensation at the Centre under Morarji Desai in 1977.
Dharia, who was twice elected to the Lok Sabha from Pune in 1971 and 1977, was commerce minister under Desai.
Together with former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, and ex-Vice President Krishan Kant, Dharia was among the young turks in the Congress party in the 1960s.
He was deputy chairman of the planning commission when Chandra Shekhar became Prime Minister in 1991.
Dharia joined the freedom movement at the tender age of 17 and led a youth march to capture Mahad Tehsil. After remaining underground for some time, he was arrested during the Quit India Movement in 1942. With other freedom fighters, a young Dharia organised a 'People's Army' and 'liberated' Janjira State in 1948, where he was the foreign minister of the Provisional Government.
He later led various trade unions of Postmen, state transport, banks, and other employees and was the founder president of the National Labour Centre of India.
A recipient of Padma Vibhushan, the highest Padma award, in 2005, Dharia retired from active politics in 1982 and formed "Vanrai", an organisation dedicated to the cause of conservation and social forestry.
Interestingly, a bitter critic of Indira Gandhi, he was conferred the prestigious Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 2011 by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Maharashtra Governor, CM express grief over demise of Dharia
Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan has expressed deep sense of grief over the demise of senior Parliamentarian and Gandhian leader Mohan Dharia.
In a condolence message to Ravindra Dharia, son of Mohan Dharia, the Governor said: "Mohan Dharia was a saintly figure in the public life of Maharashtra. After serving the nation with distinction as Parliamentarian, as Union Minister of Commerce and as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dharia dedicated his life to the noble cause of environment protection, afforestation and rural development through his organisation Vanarai."
He involved children and youth in the movement. Even at an advanced age, Dharia was full of energy and enthusiasm and was ever so willing to serve the society. In his demise, Maharashtra has lost a true Gandhian leader, a noble soul. Continuing his good work will be a fitting tribute to him, he said.
"I had the good fortune of meeting Dhariaji on many occasions. He was like an elder brother to me, and therefore the loss is equally personal. I offer my heartfelt condolences on his demise and convey the same to his family and friends," the Governor said.
Expressing grief over the demise of the leader, state Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan described Dharia as an extraordinary personality who was a unique amalgam of politics and social life.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the work done by Dharia would be remembered for a long time.