Along with Chandra Shekhar, Ram Dhan and Krishna Kant, Dharia was one of the four ‘Young Turks’ who opposed the imposition of Emergency in 1975. All these leaders had socialist background before they joined the Congress.
Dharia was imprisoned during the Emergency and was later re-elected from Pune as a Janta Party candidate. He was also a minister in the Morarji Desai government. Dharia was appointed deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission when Chandra Shekhar was Prime Minister.
However, Dharia is famous in Maharashtra for Vanrai, the NGO which has been instrumental in water conservation projects in around 200 villages. His programme was such a success that Maharashtra government started constructing `vanrai’ bunds in the state. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2005.