Popularly known as Nana, meaning grandparent, Nanabhai Deshmukh was a towering public figure, a multi-faceted personality, and one who made a significant contribution towards Indian politics. From calling for a rural self-reliance, to being a strong opponent about imposition of Emergency enforced by late prime minister Indira Gandhi on the country, Nanaji Deshmukh was a strong person who stood by his principals throughout his life.
11th October being the birth anniversary of Nanaji Deshmukh, we bring out some important and interesting facts about him:
1. Born in a Marathi-speaking Deshastha Brahmin family, Nanaji’s full name was Chandikadas Amritrao Deshmukh.
Having lost his parents at an early age, he was brought up by his maternal uncle.
2. Being an intelligent student from a poor background, he had his high schooling sponsored by the Maharaja Of Sikar.
Later he studied at the Birla School (now the famous BITS Pilani) before joining the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
3. Nanaji Deshmukh was inspired by the teachings and policies of Lokmanya Tilak.
It was the teachings of freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak that got Nanaji interested in social service and activism.
4. Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar – a family friend of Nanaji – who discerned the potential in Nanaji and inspired him to join the RSS.
Inspired by the life of Hegdewar, many youngsters after his death in 1940 joined the RSS. Nanaji Deshmukh was one of the first and maintained a lifelong association with the organisation.
5. A learned man himself, Nanaji did a lot to impart modern education.
It was his effort that led to the foundation of the first Saraswati Sishu Mandir at Gorakhpur in 1950.
6. Nanaji’s effort in Uttar Pradesh helped him bring leaders from different political backgrounds together for the first time.
His efforts was largely responsible for Uttar Pradesh getting its first non-Congress government in 1967.
7. Soon, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nanaji Deshmukh became the invincible trio of BJS, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
It was Upadhyay’s vision, Vajpayee’s oratory skills and Deshmukh’s organizational power that made Bharatiya Jan Sangh a formidable political party of the country.
8. Nanaji greatness and stature lay in the fact that he was not only respected by his own party members but also by opposition parties.
The former UP Chief Minister Chandra Kumar Gupta did lose electoral battles to Nanaji yet maintained high regards and respect for the latter. In fact, Gupta bestowed him with the title, ‘Nana Phadnavis’.
9. After retiring from active politics, Nanaji devoted his life to social services.
He is much remembered for his social initiatives in trying to fight poverty, improving rural health and creating institutions for rural education.
10. India’s first rural University, Chitarkoot Gramoday Vishwavidyalaya, was established by him.
He also served as its Chancellor.
11. Nanaji’s dedication towards public life earned him the prestigious Padma Vibhushan in 1999.
India’s former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam praised Deshmukh for his “single-minded devotion to the uplift of the people”. The great soul passed away in February, 2010.