Nalin Bhatt,a veteran BJP leader who served the party since the days of the Bhartiya Jan Sangh for over four decades,died around 2 am on Thursday,after battling oral cancer for several years.
Bhatt,who served as the health and education minister in the 1990s in the BJP government,was diagnosed with oral cancer seven years ago and had developed complications during the past two years. He underwent two surgeries and was unable to speak coherently.
BJP leaders and ministers,including Saurabh Patel,Bhupendrasinh Chudasama,RC Faldu,Jay Narayan Vyas,and office-bearers Bharatbhai Pandya,Kaushik Patel,as well as Mahagujarat Janata Party (MJP) president
Gordhan Zadaphia,paid their respects.
Bhatt had joined the Bhartiya Jan Sangh in 1969 and became the city corporator for the first time in 1975,a post he held subsequently before becoming the deputy mayor in 1987.
Bhatt worked closely with several other BJP party workers in the late 1980s in Central Gujarat as a keen strategist to strengthen the party in the region. He was a key player in popularizing the party in the interior regions at a time when the BJP was a fledgling part, an old party worker recalled.
A close ally of Narendra Modi,Bhatt fell out with him after Modi became the chief minister and quit the party. He started an NGO called Deendayal Seva Sangharsh Samiti. Later in 2007,he joined the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and contested Assembly polls on the partys ticket from Sayajigunj seat but lost. In 2009,he quit BSP and later accompanied Keshubhai Patel to oppose the Modi government. Just before the 2012 Assembly election,he rejoined BJP.
Later,speaking to the media,state BJP president RC Faldu said He turned central Gujarat into a BJP power station and contributed significantly as the education minister by reforming the transfer rule of primary teacher, he said.