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Updated: April 22, 2014 12:53 IST

Veteran socialist Sunil Gupta passes away

Staff Reporter
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Sunil Gupta
Sunil Gupta

Eminent socialist Sunil Gupta, better known as Sunil Bhai, died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Monday night

Eminent socialist Sunil Gupta, better known as Sunil Bhai, died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi at 11.30 p.m. on Monday. His last rites were performed at the Lodhi Road crematorium on Tuesday.

Sunil was the general secretary of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad -- a Madhya Pradesh-based party founded by Kishan Patnaik -- which emerged from the socialist tendency that did not participate in the Janata government of 1977. Gupta, 54, is survived by his wife Smita and children Iqbal Abhimanyu and Shiuli Vanja.

A mentor to several socialists, most prominently Yogendra Yadav of the Aam Aadmi Party, Sunil led several movements in Central India ever since he began work here with former union minister George Fernandes' Lohia Manch in Hoshangabad's Kesla in 1984. Born in Mandsaur's Rampura, Sunil's politicial roots are in the Samata Yuvajan Sabha in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where he did an MA in Economics.

He rose to prominence leading agitations for rehabilitation of Tawa Dam oustees in 1995 and established India's most successful adivasi fishing cooperative in the Tawa Dam area. It was later broken up when the catchment area was absorbed by the Satpura Tiger Reserve. In the recent past, Sunil avoided merging his party with Aam Aadmi Party during the Wardha Conference of social activists in January this year, on grounds that it did not offer alternative economic and development policies.

He suffered a stroke last Wednesday after a fever, for which he did not take allopathic medication, spread to his brain. He was admitted in hospitals in Hoshangabad and Bhopal before being flown to Delhi where he passed away.

A person who practiced what he preached, he lived without any electrical appliances and used only non-detergent cow brand soap manufactured locally in Pipariya. He never used his surname, for himself or his children, in opposition to casteism.

Gupta was working on an editorial piece for his bi-monthly Samyik Varta where he suffered the stroke. He had plans for an alternative political experiment outside the confines of party lines after the Lok Sabha polls.

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