MUMBAI: NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday remembered former chairman of the Bajaj Group, Rahul Bajaj, as a philanthropist who was like a "lighthouse" for young entrepreneurs.
"I am deeply shocked to learn about the sad demise of Padma Bhushan Shri Rahul Bajaj! The grandson of eminent freedom fighter Jamnalal Bajaj brought transformation in society especially in poor and middle-class people with his two-wheel technology - a Bajaj Bike!," Pawar tweeted.
Pawar said he was grieved with the passing of his very close friend.
"India has lost an industrialist, a philanthropist and a lighthouse for young entrepreneurs! Hamara Bajaj," Pawar said.
The affordable vehicle increased mobility, eased the struggle for getting means of livelihood and became the tool of socio-economic change, he added.
"We Indians are deeply indebted for his immense contribution to the industry," he said.
Rahul Bajaj died at a hospital in Pune on Saturday afternoon.
He was 83.
Pawar also said Bajaj Group came to Wardha where the (Mahatma) Gandhi's family lived with the Bajajs.
They had business in that area where the big business was buying and selling cotton.
"But the later generations decided to go a different way. In a real sense, Rahul Bajaj has done a great job in the industrial sector, especially in the automobile sector," he said in a statement.
"Rahul Bajaj's business started from Pune. Some members of his previous generation were leading the industry in Mumbai. When Rahul Bajaj took over the responsibility after completing his higher education, he made the first decision not to run a factory from Mumbai," Pawar recalled.
The NCP chief said Rahul Bajaj was the only personality who spent his entire life and had a residence in Akurdi (in Pune) on the premises where his workers work.
He spent his life standing with the factory and its workers, the former Maharashtra chief minister said.
He stated that the role of the state government was to step up industrialisation in the Aurangabad district.
"Bajaj gave a big response to the state government in future without limiting the expansion of the factory to Akurdi," Pawar added.
The NCP chief further said that in the best interest of the country and society, Bajaj used to express his views clearly, even if the government disagreed with them.
"Bajaj also showed his mettle by taking the responsibility given to him in some institutions of the Maharashtra government. He was outspoken. We decided at that time to use his views more at the national level and unanimously decided to appoint him in the Rajya Sabha. Though his term was limited, his work in the Rajya Sabha would be remembered," Pawar recalled.
He said Bajaj's contribution to the Upper House on the economic and national issues was excellent and that his speech never had political connotations.
"As a friend in the industrial sector in Pune, my friendship with Bajaj remained intact. He supported me in many things. He never failed to express his opposition to the dissenting opinion. Many, including me, gladly accepted his criticism," Pawar added.