Veteran leader of the Republican Party of India and former governor of Bihar, Sikkim and Kerala, Ramkrishna Suryabhan Gavai passed away on Saturday after prolonged illness. He was 86.
He was under treatment for more than a month after suffering brain haemorrhage and was on ventilator for the last few days. He is survived by wife Kamaltai and sons Bhushan Gavai, a judge at the Bombay High Court, Rajendra, a prominent political leader and daughter Kirti.
A close associate of Babasaheb Ambedkar, Gavai was the chairman of the Deekshabhoomi Smarak Samiti in Nagpur. He was one of the chosen volunteers of Ambedkar when the latter embraced Buddhism along with thousands of his followers at the Deekshabhoomi here in 1956.
It was to Gavai’s credit that the Deekshabhoomi was turned into a world class memorial to Ambedkar and his historic conversion to Buddhism.
Gavai was member of State Legislature from 1964 to 1994, was Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council from 1968 to 1978, Chairman from 1978 to 1984, and Leader of the Opposition of the Legislative Council from 1986 to 1988.
In 1998, Gavai was elected to the 12th Lok Sabha from Amravati Lok Sabha constituency, and in June 2006 he became Governor of Bihar and was also acting Governor of Sikkim for a brief period.
On June 26, 2008, Gavai was appointed as Governor of Kerala and completed his term on August 25, 2011.
His body will be taken to his Amravati residence, where a funeral procession will pass through the city on Sunday before his mortal remains are consigned to flames at his native village of Darapur.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the Gavai family and offered his condolences. Fadnavis described the Gavai as one of the tallest leaders of Republican movement, a fine parliamentarian, an able institution builder and a pillar of strength for social life whose demise is an irreparable personal loss.