Veteran Congress leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar passed away on Wednesday. He was 92. Condoling his death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was a popular leader who enriched Parliamentary democracy.
“Balram Jakhar ji was a popular leader who enriched our Parliamentary democracy in his long political journey. Saddened by his demise. RIP,” he tweeted.
Balram Jakhar ji was a popular leader who enriched our Parliamentary democracy in his long political journey. Saddened by his demise. RIP.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 3, 2016
Jakhar served as Speaker of Lok Sabha from 1980 to 1989 during which he contributed to the establishment of Parliament Museum.
He also served as Agriculture Minister in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Jakhar also served as Governor of Madhya Pradesh from June 30, 2004 to May 30, 2009.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has expressed grief over the demise of Jakhar.
In her message to the family of Jakhar, Gandhi said, “The Congress Party as indeed the entire nation will forever remember the contributions made by him during the course of his long public life, particularly to the cause of farming community.”
“Be it as Legislator, Parliamentarian, Minister, Speaker or Governor, Dr Jakhar forever remained at the forefront in taking up issues concerning agriculture and farmers and his role in modernising the Parliament Secretariat was pioneering.”
Jakhar also served as Deputy Minister Cooperation, Irrigation and Power in Punjab between 1973-77 and then Leader of Opposition in the Assembly between 1977 and 1979.
Jakhar was a four-time MP in Lok Sabha starting from his election in the seventh Lok Sabha in 1980. He was again elected in 1984, 1991 and 1998.
In 1980, he became Lok Sabha Speaker and served till 1989 for two terms during which he was instrumental in automation and computerisation of the House works.
He worked extensively for promotion of Parliament Library, smartening the reference, research and documentation system of the House and streamlining information for the members.
Jakhar headed Business Advisory Committee, Rules Committee; General Purposes Committee; and Standing Committee of the Conference of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India.
In the party, he became General Secretary All India Congress Committee in 1990 and from 1992 he was member, Congress Working Committee.
The body of Jakhar, who breathed his last here at around 7 AM, is being taken to his native village Panjkosi near Abohar in Punjab, where he will be cremated tomorrow morning, his family sources said.
Expressing grief over Jakhar’s demise, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi hailed him as a party stalwart. “Extremely saddened by the passing away of veteran Congress leader Balram Jakharji. In his passing Congress Party has lost a stalwart.
“His immense contribution to the nation in his long political career as Parliamentarian, Union Minister & Governor will always be remembered,” he tweeted.
Offering his condolences to the Congress leader’s family, BJP veteran LK Advani said, “I am grieved to learn about the sad demise of Balram Jakhar, former Speaker, Lok Sabha, whom I had known very well.”
Advani said that as Lok Sabha Speaker, Jakhar was instrumental in the computerisation of parliamentary documents.
“He made a distinctive contribution to the development of the Parliament library and reference, documentation and information service for the knowledge and use of Members of Parliament,” he said.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that with Jakhar’s demise, the country has lost a “great parliamentarian”. He noted that Jakhar will be always remembered for maintaining the decorum and dignity of the House when he was Speaker.
Former Union Agriculture Minister Pawar added that, as one of his predecessors, Jakhar had worked to maintain the pace of agricultural development in all spheres.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that Jakhar’s sad demise is “an irreparable loss for the nation”.
“The passing away of such a distinguished and soft-spoken leader is an irreparable loss for the nation,” Mahajan said in a statement.
Extending condolences to the bereaved members of Jakhar’s family, she said “He will always be in our midst for his thoughts. He used to call me ‘Behna’ (sister). I recently met him as he had been indisposed for a long time. Such leaders are remembered for their positive qualities.”
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said that Jakhar “maintained the high level of parliamentary traditions” during his tenure as Lok Sabha Speaker.
As a public representative, he remained dedicated to the welfare of farmers, labourers and other sections of the society, she added in her condolence message.