Senior Congress tribal leader and former union minister Manikrao Gavit passed away due to age-related illness at a hospital here on Saturday, a party leader said.
Gavit – who served as MoS for Home and later Social Justice under former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh – was 87 and is survived by his son Bharat and his daughter, ex-MLA Nirmala.
Gavit was elected a record nine times from the tribal dominated Nandurbar district from 1981 till 2009, but lost the elections under the Bharatiya Janata Party wave of 2014.
In 2019, his son Bharat joined the BJP after he was denied a ticket by the Congress while two-time MLA from Igatpuri (Nashik) Nirmala joined the Shiv Sena and was defeated.
Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole expressed grief over his demise and said the state has lost a prominent and far-sighted ‘people-oriented leader’ who had a long experience in the social and political arena.
Born in a humble tribal family at Dhulipada village in Nawapur of Nandurbar district, Gavit plunged into social life from his youth days.
Starting with the Gram Panchayat in 1965, he was later elected to the Dhule Zilla Parishad and in 1980 bagged the Nawapur Assembly seat.
From 1981 to 2009, he was elected from Nandurbar Lok Sabha constituency a record 9 consecutive times, making it one of the main Congress strongholds in the state.
In the 15th Lok Sabha, Gavit and CPM MP Vasudev Acharya were the only two MPs elected nine times who were the star members of the lower house.
Gavit, fondly regarded as Dadasaheb by his admirers had excellent relations with all and among various responsibilities, held the post of Interim Speaker of Lok Sabha once, and served as Union MoS for Home and then Social justice in Dr Singh’s government, added Patole.
“Dadasaheb’s passing has caused an irreparable loss to the state social and political spheres… I pay my homage to him and also share the grief of the Gavit family,” said Patole.