Born in small town Kadoli in Maharashtra’s Parbhani district on October 11, 1916, Nanaji Deshmukh was a Sangh Parivar veteran, founder member of the Janata Party and one of the seniormost members of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Nanaji was an active participant of the Bhoodan Movement launched by Acharya Vinoba Bhave. He also extended his support to Jayaprakash Narayan’s call for ‘Total Revolution’. Nanaji was elected to Lok Sabha from Balrampur parliamentary constituency of Uttar Pradesh.
A social activist, Nanaji played an important role in carrying out social restructuring programme in over 500 villages of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. He established the country’s first Saraswati Sishu Mandir at Gorakhpur in 1950 and was the founder of Deendayal Research Institute situated at Chitrakoot.
Credited with exemplary work in the field of education, health and rural self-reliance, Nanaji was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1999 in recognition of his services to the nation. A Padma Vibhushan awardee, Nanaji also established Chitrakoot Gramodya Vishwavidyalaya, India’s first rural university and also served as its first Chancellor.
He passed away on February 27, 2010 in Chitrakoot, at the age of 93. After his demise, his body was donated to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), as per his wishes.