RSS Veteran Nanaji Deshmukh Dead
Sangh Parivar veteran and former Rajya Sabha member Nanaji Deshmukh passed away here today at the age of 94.
He breathed his last at the premises of the country's first rural university he had established in this temple town bordering Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, his close associate Sharda Prasad Dwivedi said.
Deshmukh was unwell for some time due to age-related ailments and had refused to be taken to Delhi for treatment.
A Padma Vibhushan awardee, he had donated his body for medical research.
Born in Kadoli in Maharashtra's Parbhani district on October 11, 1916, Deskmukh had founded Deendayal Research Institute here and was credited for exemplary work in the field of education, health and rural self-reliance.
He was also instrumental in carrying out social restructuring programme in over 500 villages of both the states.
Deshmukh had established the Chitarkoot Gramodya Vishwavidyalaya in Chitrakoot -- the country's first rural university -- and was its Chancellor.
Deshmukh was a key architect of Janata Party government that had broken the uninterrupted Congress-rule at the Centre in 1977.
A man of the organisation, Nanaji- as he was affectionately called by his friends and admirers - was a fighter who ended political untouchability of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the erstwhile avatar of BJP, by giving total support to Jai Prakash Narayan's call for "Total Revolution" in 1974.
The subsequent developments, including the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, led to the formation of the Janata Party which stormed to power by sweeping off the Congress and Nanaji had played a prominent role in those dramatic moments.
Nanaji's organising skills during the JP Movement and the Emergency brought him a ministership offer at the Centre in the Morarji Desai government but he declined. Nanaji had entered the Lok Sabha from Balrampur constituency in Uttar Pradesh in the election which saw Congress being wiped out of the state.
He quietly told those concerned that his own inclination- and the way he saw his utility to the party- was in organisational work.
Earlier, in 1974 during the Bihar Sangarsh Movement, the selfless bachelor had saved JP from a police lathi-charge in Patna.
In fact, at that time Nanaji left the swearing-in ceremony to Jagjivan Ram in an effort to persuade him how necessary his presence in the government was to ensure the stability of the new dispensation.
He was General Secretary of the Janata Party, along with socialist leader Madhu Limaye, but the new experiment was short-lived due to internal bickering and the controversy over dual membership.
Nanaji left politics soon after he turned 60 though he was at the pinnacle of his career. He turned to social work to which he devoted himself till the end.
Senior BJP leader V K Malhotra deeply condoled the death of Nanaji Deshmukh.
"He was a great visionary who will always be remembered for his devotion towards social causes," Malhotra said.
In a condolence message, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati said, during his long public life, Deshmukh served the people and played an important role to make weaker sections of the society self-reliant.
He would be remembered for his contribution towards the development of villages, she said.