Veteran socialist leader GP Pradhan passes away in Pune

Pune: Freedom fighter, veteran socialist leader and self-less politician Ganesh Prabhakar Pradhan (87) passed away on Saturday May 29, 2010 morning after prolonged illness at Sane Guruji Hospital in Hadapsar area of Pune. His body and eyes were donated as per his last wish to Sumatibai Shah College of Ayurveda in Hadapsar.

Pradhan was suffering from pneumonia for some time and was admitted to hospital. He was on saline since May 21 and due to dehydration his health deteriorated in the last two days. He was feeling breathless and died at 5.05 am on Saturday morning.

Pradhan had donated his house in Sadashiv Peth for Sadhana Trust and had shifted to Sane Guruji Hospital since June 23, 2004. Secretary of the hospital Anil Gujar informed that he used to reply to all the letters till October 2009 after which his health deteriorated. Pradhan wanted to visit Late Baba Amte’s Anandvan and stay there for some time but could not do so.

Pradhan was influenced by noted socialist leaders Late N G Gorey and Late S M Joshi which brought him to the socialist movement. After completing his graduation he participated in Quit India movement in 1942 and was jailed for 11 months when he was just 22 years old. After release from the jail, he completed his MA (English) and joined Fergusson College where he served for next 20 years.

Pradhan worked as University of Pune Senate member and Syndicate member. This propelled him to legislative council in the year 1966 and Pradhan set an example by resigning his job for contesting election. He was elected for three consecutive terms on the legislative council where he also worked as leader of opposition. Pradhan again set an example by refusing to contest for the fourth time from graduates constituency and devoting his life for working as editor of Weekly Sadhana, which was founded by Late Sane Guruji.

He served as president of Mahatma Gandhi Lokseva Sangh for 11 years between 1988 and 1999. He was president of Maharashtra Granthalaya Sangh for three terms between 1967 and 1971. He presided over Maharashtra Arogya Mandal between 1990 and 1999 which runs the Sane Guruji Hospital. Pradhan retired from active politics in 1985 and served as Sadhana editor for 13 years between 1985 and 1998.

Pradhan had penned more than 30 books including 6 books in English. He had delivered public lectures on Shakespere’s famous plays. He has written books highlighting contributions of leaders like Leo Tolstoy, Lokmanya Tilak, among others. He also reported from the battle-front during 1965 Indo-Pak war.

- Shailendra Paranjpe / DNA

Ganesh Prabhakar Pradhan (87)

Pradhan had devoted his life to the socialist ideology. He not only preached it but practised it throughout his life. He was fondly known as Pradhan master in socialist circle.

Born on August 26, 1922, he completed his BA (Honours) in 1942 and then joined ‘Quit India’ movement when he was jailed for 11 months. In 1945, he completed MA in English and Marathi.

He began teaching in Fergusson College in 1945 and continued till 1965. He left the job to join politics and began working for socialist party. He was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1966 from graduates’ constituency. The University of Pune had conferred D Lit on him in 1998.

He was successively elected as an MLC in 1972 and 1978 from the same constituency. He was the leader of the Opposition in Assembly from 1980 to 1982. He was jailed for 18 months during Emergency from June 1975 to January 1977.

He retired from Assembly in 1984 even as he was offered candidature from his party to join as an honorary editor of Sadhana magazine. He worked in Sadhana till 1998 and voluntarily vacated his post once he turned 75. He worked as chairman of Mahatma Gandhi Lokseva Sangh, Maharashtra Arogya Mandal and Maharashtra Granthalay Parishad.

In 2006, he decided to retire from public life and refused to participate in public gatherings. He donated his house and shifted to Sane Guruji Hospital.

Pradhan wrote extensively on social movements, issues and biographies of great leaders of India.

His Marathi books Lokmanya Tilak, Swatantryasangramache Mahabharat and Sata Uttarachi Kahani received many awards, including state awards. Pandit Nehru Jeevandarshan, Bhakari Ani Swatantrya, Sane Guruji, Ram Ganesh Gadkari, Tolstoychi Patre, Lokshahi Ani Samajvad, Mazi Vatchal, Tolstoy, Satyagrahi Gandhiji, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Tyanchyach Shabdat Mala Samajlele... and Agarkar Lekh Sangraha are some of his other prominent books.

‘No memorial, just plant a tree’

“Please do not set up any memorial after my death. Plant a tree in my memory...” G P Pradhan had written four years back to Narendra Dabholkar, editor of Sadhana magazine, where he once worked as honorary editor.

“ friends who love me should plant a tree and manage it for five years after my death,” he had written.

He had also expressed a wish that Sadhana should become the mouthpiece of all progressive movements.

Recalling his generosity, one of the many great qualities Pradhan was known for, his close associate Rajendra Bahalkar said, “Pradhan sir was so selfless he used to donate almost all his various pensions to social movements and the needy. In the last ten years, he donated around Rs 20 lakh to various organisations and persons. He used to get pension as an ex-MLC, freedom fighter and retired college professor besides royalty from his books. He used to donate most of the money.”

“Pradhan sir had a great moral standing in society and every politician admired him. He carried forward the legacy of Sane Guruji. He never compromised on principles,” said Dabholkar.

“During his stay in Sane Guruji Hospital, though he was a trustee, he used to pay his monthly bills well on time,” said a cashier at the hospital.

Socialist leader Baba Adhav said he had lost a guide and friend. “Pradhan was a living example of a person who devoted his life to democratic socialism. He used all weapons of socialist movement to fight injustice.”

Social crusader Anna Hazare said, “A meeting with Pradhan sir used to charge activists like us. His death is a great loss to society. Activists like us feel orphaned.”

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Pune Guardian Minister Ajit Pawar and Republican Party of India president Ramdas Athavale, in their messages, paid tribute to Pradhan.

Leaders cutting across political parties, social activists and prominent citizens including Bhai Vaidya, Rambhau Tupe, N D Patil, Kishor Pawar, Taher Poonawala, Dadasaheb Naiknavare, Narendra Dabholkar, Pannalal Surana, Mohan Dharia, Gajanan Khatu, Subhash Vare, Anvar Rajan, Madhukar Nirfarake, Kumar Saptarshi, Shivajirao Giridhar Patil, Ramesh Bagwe, Ramesh Wanjale, Neelam Gorhe, Vandana Chavan, Ulhas Pawar, Prakash Ambedkar and Jaydev Gaikwad paid their last respects.

- Express News Service/Indian Express

photo: Pune

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