Veteran Socialist leader and former Maharashtra home minister Bhai Vaidya dies in Pune at 89

Bhai Vaidya भाई वैद्य (22 June 1928 – 2 April 2018)
(Image: Aby John Vannilam, MAVELI RAJYAM 
(CC BY-SA 2.5 IN)

Veteran socialist leader, former Maharashtra home minister and former mayor of Pune Bhai Vaidya (Bhalchandra Sadashiv Vaidya) died of old age and cancer-related complications at 7.30 pm on Monday April 2, 2018 at Poona hospital in Pune. He was 89.

He had been admitted to Poona hospital after he was diagnosed with cancer three weeks ago after complaining of breathlessness. Few months ago, he had undergone Angioplasty. He is survived by son Abhijit Vaidya, daughter Prachi Rawal, a grandson and a granddaughter. Vaidya’s body was cremated with full state honors on Tuesday April 3 evening at the Vaikunth crematorium in Navi Peth, where thousands of people from all areas were present.

Before performing the last rites, Vaidya’s mortal remains were kept at Sane Guruji Smarak, the headquarters of the Rashtra Seva Dal (RSD) where people from various walks of life paid tribute to him. An excellent orator and non-partisan leader, his death has caused a dent to the socialist movement. Political leaders across party lines paid their condolences.

Bhalchandra Sadashiv Vaidya (भालचंद्र सदाशिव वैद्य) was born on June 22, 1928 in Dapode village near Velhe in Pune district. He was fondly addressed as “Bhai Vaidya”. He did his post graduation in Social Science and Political Science.

Vaidya began his journey in activism and politics as a 14-year-old taking part in the freedom struggle. He had participated in the Quit India movement in 1942, the Goa freedom struggle in 1955, the united Maharashtra movement in 1957, the Kutch Satyagraha in 1968 and the JP Movement in 1974.

He was in jail for three weeks in 1957 while fighting for Sanyukta Maharashtra movement which fought for a Marathi-speaking state with Mumbai (then Bombay) as its capital. During the Emergency, he had served 19 months in jail. He had also participated in the 4,000-km padyatra from Delhi to Kanyakumari undertaken by Chandrashekhar in 1983. He actively participated in various movements including fight for farmers rights, charge-sheet against Antulay government, satyagrha, fight against inflation and many other social movements. He was jailed 25 times during various movements. Even at the age of 88, he was arrested after he took part in the agitation for “educational rights”.

He joined Rashtra Seva Dal in 1943, and later joined Congress Socialist party (C.S.P.) in 1946. He remained associated with the Socialist Party (S.P.), 1948–52, Praja Socialist Party (P.S.P.), 1952–55, Socialist Party (S.P.), 1955–64, Samyukta Socialist Party (S.S.P.), 1964–71 , Socialist Party(S.P.), 1971–77, Janata Party, 1977–88, Janata Dal, 1988–90, Janata Dal (Socialist), 1990–93, Socialist Front, 1993–95, Samajwadi Janaparishad, 1995–2011 and Socialist Party (India) 2011 till his death in 2018. He served as the National General Secretary of the Janata Party from 1986 to 1988, the National General Secretary of the Samajwadi Jana Parishad from 1995 to 1999, the National Vice-President of the Samajwadi Jana Parishad from 1999 to 2001 and the President of Socialist Party (India) from 2011 to 2016. He was the President of Rashtra Seva Dal in 2001.

His political career spanned 60 years and Bhai Vaidya was elected multiple times as the corporator for the Pune Municipal Corporation. He was a member of various committee in the civic body. He was member of Pune Municipal Corporation from 1967 to 1978 and was Pune city mayor from 1974 to 1975. He was the first president of the All- India Mayors’ Association. He was a vocal opponent of emergency even during his Mayorship, when he organized a rally of 20,000 people at Shaniwar Wada and got arrested.

In 1978 he was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly from the Bhavani Peth Vidhan Sabha constituency on Janata Party (JNP) ticket. He was also Maharashtra minister of state for home in Sharad Pawar’s Progressive Democratic Front government between 1978-80. He is well known for many reformative decision during his Home Ministry, especially changing the police uniforms from half pants to full pants and refusing huge bribes from smugglers with his honest and uncompromising attitude.

He was the President of Bharat Yatra Trust, Delhi the President of S.M Joshi Medical Trust, Pune and president of the Ammunition Factory Workers' Union in Kirkee in Pune. He was also formed unions of unorganised workers in the state.

Mr. Vaidya was a close associate of S.M. Joshi, a well-known social worker and leader of Sanyukta Maharashtra Samiti. He was also an associate of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar.

He has authored books on socialism, the Mandal commission and educational reforms among others. He wrote various articles through newspapers.
He is the recipient of several awards such as Goa Krantidin, Moulana Sadbhavna, Samata Bhushan and Mahatma Phule. He always remained a staunch socialist and progressive ideologue.

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