Pune: Former Union minister, freedom fighter and environmentalist Mohan Dharia, who quit the Indira Gandhi government against imposition of Emergency, died here on Monday of chronic kidney failure.

He was 89. Dharia is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. He was admitted to Poona Hospital on Saturday and underwent dialysis. However, his condition deteriorated and he breathed his last at 7.55am, doctors attending on him said.

A socialist at heart, Dharia was minister of state for planning, housing and urban development in the Indira Gandhi government in 1971-75. A fierce critic of Emergency, he was the first Union minister to resign from his post and join the movement led by Jayaprakash Narayan which culminated in the fall of Indira Gandhi government and installation of the first non-Congress dispensation at the Centre under Morarji Desai in 1977.

Dharia, who was twice elected to the Lok Sabha from Pune in 1971 and 1977, was commerce minister under Desai. Together with former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, and ex-vice president Krishan Kant, Dharia was among the young turks in the Congress party in the 1960s. He was deputy chairman of the planning commission when Chandra Shekhar became prime minister in 1991.

Dharia joined the freedom movement at the tender age of 17 and led a youth march to capture Mahad Tehsil. After remaining underground for some time, he was was arrested during the Quit India Movement in 1942. With other freedom fighters, a young Dharia organized a ‘People’s Army´ and ‘liberated´ Janjira State in 1948, where he was the foreign minister of the provisional government.

He later led various trade unions of Postmen, state transport, banks, and other employees and was the founder president of the National Labour Centre of India.

A recipient of Padma Vibhushan, the highest Padma award, in 2005, Dharia retired from active politics in 1982 and formed “Vanrai", an organization dedicated to the cause of conservation and social forestry. Interestingly,even though a bitter critic of Indira Gandhi, Dharia was conferred the prestigious Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 2011, by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

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