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Former Rajasthan CM Jagannath Pahadia succumbs to COVID-19

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Rajasthan’s former chief minister Jagannath Pahadia, 89, who passed away due to COVID-19 in a private hospital in Gurugram on late Wednesday night, will be cremated at Delhi’s Lodhi Road cremation ground on Thursday afternoon with full state honours.

His wife Shanti Pahadia, a former member of Rajya Sabha, is also critically ill after testing positive for COVID-19.

Rajasthan govt announces state mourning

Rajasthan government has announced state mourning and all the government offices were closed as a mark of respect to Pahadia. He was the only Dalit chief minister of the state who served for 13 months.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot paid tribute to Pahadia and described him as a veteran and tall leader of the state who served the cabinet of Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi.

He became the youngest member of the Lok Sabha in 1957 when he was elected on a Congress ticket from Sawai Madhopur seat in 1957. He was inducted later as a deputy minister in Pandit Nehru’s Cabinet.

Entry into politics

Pahadia’s entry into politics was because of a meeting with Pandit Nehru in Delhi. He was introduced to Nehru by a senior party leader Master Adityendra of Bharatpur. Pandit Nehru asked him about the state of affairs in the country, a tall and young Pahadia sporting a Gandhi cap promptly said that the Dalits were not given enough opportunities in the country.

Pandit Nehru asked him to contest the 1957 Lok Sabha election. This is how Pahadia made his entry into politics and became a Union minister, chief minister and served as governors of Bihar and Haryana.

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He served as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan between June 1980 and July 1981, and during this tenure of 13 months, he declared prohibition in the state which was  later revoked.

Pahadia was a member of the Lok Sabha for four terms between 1957 and 1980. He also served as a member of the Rajasthan Assembly in 1980, 1985, 1999 and 2003. He once lost the Vidhan Sabha election and after that he did not contest any election.

He served as the Governor of Bihar from 1989 to 1990 and later as the Governor of Haryana from 2009 to 2014.

Nehru loyalist

Pahadia was a loyalist of the Nehru-Gandhi family and during the post-emergency period when Indira Gandhi and the Congress went out of power, Pahadia remained a loyalist. He came in close contact with Sanjay Gandhi and worked closely with him to rebuild the party and he was rewarded with the chief ministership of Rajasthan.

But, he soon became a victim of the factionalism in the Congress party. Pahadia also failed to provide a good administration and was an unsuccessful chief minister. He lost a lot of clout within the party after the sad demise of Sanjay Gandhi in an air crash. In 1981, he was replaced by Shiv Charan Mathur as the chief minister.

For over a decade, Pahadia was inactive and was suffering from old age diseases and would pass his time in Delhi and in Jaipur. He lost his son two years ago and after that Pahadia remained sad and was rarely seen in public.

 

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