LUCKNOW: Social activist and former Member of Parliament Nanaji Deshmukh died on Saturday evening at Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh bordering Madhya Pradesh. He was 94.
He had been ailing for a long time but declined to leave Chitrakoot for treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. However, he had willed that his body be donated for medical research. Born on October 11, 1916 at Kadoli, a small town in Parbhani district of Maharashtra, he actively participated in Bhoodan Movement started by Acharya Vinoba Bhave.
He was a Sangh Parivar veteran, founder member of the Janata Party and later a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
When Jai Prakash Narayan gave the call for Total Revolution he responded by giving total support to this movement. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Balrampur parliamentary constituency in UP.
However, he did not join the Morarji Desai government despite special request. Instead, he opted out of active politics after the formation of the Janata Party government post-Emergency. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1999 in recognition of his services to the nation. Nanaji established Chitrakoot Gramodya Vishwavidyalaya in Chitrakoot, which is the first rural university in the country, and was its first Chancellor.
He was serving Deendayal Research Institute that he himself had established way back in 1969.
He also established India’s first Saraswati Sishu Mandir at Gorakhpur in 1950. A Padma Vibhushan awardee and credited with 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 UP and MP.
Deshmukh’s public life includes almost all big names both pre-and post-Independence.