Even as the Parliament celebrates its 60th birthday,Pune city has reason to raise a toast as it sent MPs who pitched in their best when it came to participating in debates or raising larger public issues of national importance on the floor of the House. Punes MPs never restricted themselves to issues relating to Pune city. In Parliament,they raised their voice on significant national issues after thoroughly studying them, says political commentator Suhas Palshikar.
Pune citys tryst with Parliament began in 1952 when Kakasaheb Gadgil was elected as MP in the first-ever elections in post-Independent India. Kakasaheb,a Congressman,was already a minister in the Nehru Cabinet from 1947-52. He completed his full tenure as MP. He was followed by the likes of Nanasaheb Gore (1957),Shankarrao More (1962),S M Joshi (1967) and Mohan Dharia (1971 and 1977). Joshi,a writer and journalist,and Gore had led the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. Both were acclaimed as forebearers of the socialist movement in Maharashtra. Joshi was elected on an Samyukta Socialist Party ticket while Gore was from Praja Socialist Party.
Barrister Vithalrao Gadgil,son of Kakasaheb Gadgil,a staunch Congressman,was elected in 1980,1984 and 1989. After him,Anna Joshi (1991) and Pradeep Rawat (1999) of BJP,Congressman Vithal Tupe (1998) and Suresh Kalmadi (1996,2004 and 2009),also from Congress,have been elected from the Pune Lok Sabha constituency. While Vithalrao Gadgil and Kalmadi were elected thrice,Dharia made it twice.
Dharia,Vithalrao and Kalmadi occupied ministerial chair. Only Dharia became the Cabinet minister while the other two held minister of state (independent) charge. Kakasaheb was a minister in the Nehru Cabinet before the first elections were held in 1952. After the elections,he remained an MP, said his grandson Anant Gadgil. My grandfather went on to became the Punjab Governor. My father also became a minister of state. He was later a Congress spokesman for 10 years, he said.
Eighty-eight-year-old Dharia,who was elected on a Congress ticket in 1971,was the Planning Minister in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet. He had resigned from the party in protest against the imposition of Emergency. I was in jail for 17 months, recalls Dharia,who was subsequently elected on a Janata Party ticket in 1977.
I again became a minister handling commerce,jute and civil supplies in the Morarji Desai Cabinet. Both the times,Dharia won elections by over a lakh votes. That was quite a margin in those days, says Dharia,Vanrai founder. Dharia also served as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.
As minister,Dharia says as he played a crucial roles in framing the countrys foreign trade policy. It was during my tenure the restrictions on foreign trade policy began to ease, he recalls,adding that he put in his might to set the co-operative movement rolling by making necessary funds available. His biggest contribution to Pune,says Dharia,was the setting up of the Pune airport. Two ministries were quarrelling over allotment of land for the airport. I then met Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and convinced her about the need the allot the land, he says.
Dharia,however,says though he was instrumental in setting up of the airport,Kalmadi ensured its growth. Besides this,I got 10,000 homes constructed for Defence employees and brought in amendment to Cantonments Act that ensured more powers for them, he says.