NEW DELHI: Veteran Congress leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar passed away here today.
He was 92. Condoling his death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was a popular leader who enriched Parliamentary democracy. "Balram Jakhar ji was a popular leader who enriched our Parliamentary democracy in his long political journey. Saddened by his demise. RIP," he tweeted.
Jakhar served as Speaker of Lok Sabha from 1980 to 1989 during which he contributed to the establishment of Parliament Museum. He also served as Agriculture Minister in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Jakhar also served as Governor of Madhya Pradesh from June 30, 2004 to May 30, 2009. Congress President Sonia Gandhi has expressed grief over the demise of Jakhar.
In her message to the family of Jakhar, Gandhi said, "The Congress Party as indeed the entire nation will forever remember the contributions made by him during the course of his long public life, particularly to the cause of farming community."
"Be it as Legislator, Parliamentarian, Minister, Speaker or Governor, Dr Jakhar forever remained at the forefront in taking up issues concerning agriculture and farmers and his role in modernising the Parliament Secretariat was pioneering."
Jakhar also served as Deputy Minister Cooperation, Irrigation and Power in Punjab between 1973-77 and then Leader of Opposition in the Assembly between 1977 and 1979. Jakhar was a four-time MP in Lok Sabha starting from his election in the seventh Lok Sabha in 1980. He was again elected in 1984, 1991 and 1998. In 1980, he became Lok Sabha Speaker and served till 1989 for two terms during which he was instrumental in automation and computerisation of the House works.
He worked extensively for promotion of Parliament Library, smartening the reference, research and documentation system of the House and streamlining information for the members.
Jakhar headed Business Advisory Committee, Rules Committee; General Purposes Committee; and Standing Committee of the Conference of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India.
In the party, he became General Secretary All India Congress Committee in 1990 and from 1992 he was member, Congress Working Committee.