Former Union minister and one of the Congress leaders who opposed the imposition of Emergency by Indira Gandhi, Mohan Dharia died on Monday morning following a prolonged illness. He was 88.
Dharia, who was active in politics since the Independence struggle, went on to become a Union minister in Gandhi’s government. He distanced himself from politics about two decades ago and devoted himself to Vanrai, an NGO, which he formed for water conservation.
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.