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Former MP Sambhajirao Kakade, a staunch opponent of Sharad Pawar, dies at 89

Fondly addressed as Lala, Sambhajirao Kakade headed the state Janata Party unit in the 70s and was later with the Janata Dal formed under the leadership of V P Singh.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: May 11, 2021 12:43:11 am
Sambhajirao Kakade

Sambhajirao Kakade, the last of the socialist leaders from Pune who was known as the arch-rival of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, died of old age on Monday. He was 89.

Other than Sharad Pawar, who had won from the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency several times, Kakade was the only other leader who won two terms from the seat.

Fondly addressed as ‘Lala’, Kakade headed the state Janata Party unit in the 1970s and later joined the Janata Dal formed under the leadership of V P Singh. He was known for his proximity to the former prime minister. The Kakade family had control over the Pune district Central Cooperative Bank for nearly 25 years before yielding control to the Pawar family.

“The Kakade family and Pawar family are well known in Pune district. The Kakade family strongly opposed the Pawars on the political terrain and outside. They did everything to outdo each other…,” recalled Manav Kamble, a close associate.

Kakade was the contemporary of stalwarts such as N M Joshi, Mohan Dhariya and Nanasaheb Gore. “They were all socialist leaders from Pune who were acclaimed for their leadership qualities and their tireless work for society at large. Kakade worked in close association with them,” said Congress leader Ramesh Iyer.

BJP leader Mahesh Kulkarni said Kakade had won two Lok Sabha elections from Baramati. “In the Lok Sabha elections after Emergency was lifted in 1977, he had defeated barrister Vithalrao Gadil of the Congress. He had also won in a by-poll in 1985, after Sharad Pawar had resigned,” he said.

In the 1977 election, the Janata Party had won all the three seats of Pune city, Baramati and Khed in Pune district during what was described as the ‘Janata Party wave’.

Iyer said, “Though Kakade was a strong opponent of Pawar, it was Pawar who had supported Kakade in the by-poll in 1985. Kakade had won the election then.” Kakade’s nephew Viraj had also contested from Baramati once, but lost the election.

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Iyer said in 2004, Kakade, who had decided to contest from Baramati, eventually withdrew from the race after it became known that Pawar was suffering from a serious illness. “Kakade had issued a statement to the effect, saying he was withdrawing from the race in support of Pawar who was suffering from a disease” he said.

Kakade was first elected as a member of the state Legislative Council in 1971. His associates said he always opposed the Congress and never gave up the ideology of the Janata Party. Though old age had caught up with him, he would make all possible efforts to attend a rally held for a public cause. “Once he came all the way to Pimpri-Chinchwad even though he could barely walk. His commitment to public causes was incomparable,” said Kamble.

“One thing was certain about Lala, if anyone went to him seeking any kind of help, he or she would never return empty handed. Sambhajirao was a large-hearted man and a generous soul. He never thought twice before extending help to that person, especially those who were in distress…,” said Kamble.

Paying his tribute, Sharad Pawar tweeted, “In Kakade’s death, Baramati has lost a strong political leader. As a senior Janata Dal leader, he cast his influence on Maharashtra’s political terrain for a long time. He gave direction to new leadership.”

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