Former Union minister and deputy chairman of Planning Commission Mohan Dharia,who passed away on Monday morning following a brief illness,was cremated with full state honours. He was 88 and is survived by his wife,two sons and a daughter. Part of the Young Turks of the 70s,Dharia was among the rare breed of politicians who quit the field to champion the cause of environment for nearly three decades.
From ordinary citizens to politicians,the common refrain in Pune on Monday was: Ek chaangla manoos gela… (a noble person has died.)
A sea of mourners from different walks of life and cutting across political divide attended the funeral at Vaikunth crematorium in the evening. Among these were Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan,Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar,NCP chief Sharad Pawar,Mayor Chanchala Kodre,MP Suresh Kalmadi and RPI leader Ramdas Athavale. President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent their condolences to the bereaved family.
As per the last wish of Dharia,Sharad Pawar planted a sapling on the crematorium premises in memory of the socialist leader.
The entire political class had in fact arrived at the scheduled funeral hour and paid glowing tributes to Dharia. Chavan said Maharashtra has lost a great thinker who played a crucial role in shaping the destiny of the state. When he was in the Congress,he did everything possible to strengthen the party. After quitting politics,he launched himself in the environmental field and played an equally important role to generate awareness and frame norms for protecting the environment, the CM said.
The work done by him through Vanarai is inspiring for many. His death is a big loss to the country. Dharia had led a protest at a young age and followed the practice of protest and movement till the end for some or the other cause, said the CM,adding that the veteran leader was successful in connecting with the young generation.
The veteran leader,through his work in Vanarai,proved that public participation is crucial in development process instead of solely relying on government. He enjoyed working in the social sector than the political field, Chavan said.
It is an irreparable loss not only for Maharashtra,but for the country as a whole… he taught us how to do social work while being a politician. He was a selfless person and inspired several young men, said NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
Recalling his association with Dharia from the 60s,Pawar said he was relentless in the pursuit of the causes he took up. It showed on the environmental field to a telling effect.
Mayor Kodre said,Dharias demise is a blow to Pune; he put in so much effort for its development.
The body of Dharia,who breathed his last at Poona Hospital where was admitted on Saturday afternoon,was kept at his residence at Sane Guruji Marg near S P College. It was taken to Vanarai office in the afternoon. The crematorium,where the funeral was held around 6 pm,also saw leaders from various parties,social activists,environmentalists,educationists,students,senior journalists,top civic and state government officials.
Also present were NCP city chief Vandana Chavan,Congress city chief Abhay Chhajed,Congress leaders Ulhas Pawar,Mohan Joshi,BJP MLA Girish Bapat,NCP MP Supriya Sule,former minister Ramesh Bagwe,former MP Anna Joshi,veteran journalist Dileep Padgaonkar,industrialists Arun Firodia and MIT founder-president Vishwanath Karad.
Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak,Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh,District Collector Vikas Deshmukh and former divisional commissioner Dilip Band also paid tribute to Dharia.
Social activists and NGOs,especially those involved with Vanarai,were present in big numbers. He was associated with our Janseva Foundation as chief patron for years and helped us help the poor,aged and disabled, said K Jadhav and Nanjibhai Shah. Farmer and labour leaders as well as workers,whose cause Dharia had taken up several times,came from different parts of the state.
Sanjay Sutar,an autorickshaw driver,said whenever he met the great man at a traffic signal,he waved at him and got a heart-warming smile in return.