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A determined politician who also successfully battled cancer

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 - 7:15am IST | Agency: dna

The high point in the long political career of Ram Naik was his stints as Union minister for railways and petroleum. He represented Mumbai in parliament and was also MLA for three terms.

But perhaps the biggest proof of the mettle of the man was his successful fight over cancer. So much so, that today doctors at Tata Memorial Hospital where he was treated, try to encourage their patients by telling them his story.

Today, some of these people visit Naik to take his advice on how to battle the big C. In 1994, around the time that his political career was at its peak, he was detected to be afflicted by the disease.

He made regular visits to hospital for treatment, underwent radiation therapy which sapped his body to the extent that some couldn't even recognise him. His determination and the support of family and friends saw him make a spectacular recovery.

Originally from Sangli, Naik came to Mumbai to take up employment. He was already involved in activities of the RSS and soon joined the Jan Sangh, the forerunner of the BJP. However, he quit his job to devote himself full-time to political work.

When Jan Sangh members joined the Janata Party, Naik became president of the party's city unit, and then subsequently head of the city unit of the BJP.

He settled in Goregaon and was elected to the state assembly three times between 1978 and 1989. Elected to Parliament, he was first Union minister of state for railway in the Vajpayee government and then promoted to cabinet rank as minister for petroleum and natural gas.

He was instrumental in setting up the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation that is dedicated to the development of the suburban railway system.

As petroleum minister he ensured the long waiting list of 1.10 crore LPG applicants was cleared and a further 3.5 crore got new domestic connections, more than the number in the previous four decades. He also introduced the use of CNG for vehicles.

Naik's name was mentioned in a controversy on the allotment of petrol pumps, but he came out of it unscathed.

He also devoted his effort to ensure that Vande Mataram was sung in Parliament and supported the movement to rename Bombay to Mumbai, while campaigning for the institution of the local area development fund for Mps.

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