Veteran socialist leader and former Union Minister Janeshwar Mishra died in Allahabad following heart attack on Friday. He was considered a pillar of strength to the Samajwadi Party and its president, Mulayam Singh.
Mr. Mishra, 77, had been ailing for some time. He was to be shifted to the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Mr. Mishra was SP vice president and member of the Rajya Sabha. Despite ill-health, he participated in the party’s Statewide agitation in Allahabad on January 19 against price rise and corruption, his last public appearance.
Mr. Mulayam Singh, who had gone to his native village, Saifai, in the morning, was headed for Allahabad on hearing of Mr. Mishra’s death.
At a meeting at Saifai, a condolence resolution was moved by national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav. Mr. Mulayam Singh said the veteran politician was fully dedicated to the ideals of Ram Manohar Lohia.
A condolence meeting was also held at the party headquarters here, presided over by senior leader Bhagwati Singh.
Known as “Chhotey Lohia” for his long association with Dr. Lohia and as he came from a humble background, Mr. Mishra belonged to the quartet of socialist leaders who hailed from Ballia district in eastern Uttar Pradesh and made a mark on the national political scene.
The other three were Gauri Shankar Rai, Kashi Nath Mishra and S. Chandra Shekhar. All the four were closely associated with Dr. Lohia. While Rai became Dr. Lohia’s secretary, Chandra Shekhar went over to the Congress before joining the Janata Party and later becoming Prime Minister in 1991. Mr. Kashi Nath Mishra too joined the Congress in 1984 and is the only surviving member of the Ballia quartet.
A brilliant orator since his student days, Mr. Janeshwar Mishra won his political spurs in Allahabad and was known for his commitment to Lohiaite socialism. He entered the Lok Sabha in 1977 from Allahabad on Janata Party ticket, defeating Vishwanath Pratap Singh of the Congress by about 90,000 votes. He was a Union Minister in the Chandra Shekhar government in 1990-91.
Later, Mr. Mishra joined forces with Mr. Mulayam Singh and became a founder-member of the SP.
Gargi Parsai reports from New Delhi:
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan expressed shock and grief at the demise of a “dynamic and charismatic leader known for his immense calibre and outstanding administrative skills.”
Describing Mr. Mishra as a “towering personality,” Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav said he was a “living history of the socialist movement” and was committed to his ideology. Dr. Lohia was very fond of him. Mr. Yadav said Mr. Mishra was in the forefront of opposition politics.
Lok Jan Shakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan said the passing away of Mr. Mishra marked the end of a chapter in the socialist movement. Congress spokesman Manish Tewari also condoled the death.
In Patna, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the country had lost a veteran socialist and good administrator. RJD chief Lalu Prasad also mourned Mr. Mishra.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rajnath Singh said Mr. Mishra considered poverty the biggest problem in the country and was particularly sensitive to the plight of economically weaker and backward sections.
It’s [former Prime Minister] Chandra Shekhar who held office from November 10, 1990 - June 21, 1991. A report “Janata Dal (S) Socialist leader Janeshwar Mishra passes away” (January 23, 2010) was incorrect in giving his name as S. Chandra Shekhar, and saying that he became Prime Minister in 1991.