Ex-union minister, senior BJP leader Jayawantiben Mehta dead (Lead, with Images)
Mumbai, Nov 7 (IANS) Jayawantiben Mehta, seniormost Bharatiya Janata Party leader in Maharashtra and a former Union Minister, passed away early on Monday at her residence following a brief illness. She was 78.
Considered a pillar of the party’s ‘old guard’, she had served as a minister in the first NDA government headed by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
A housewife-turned-politician who also served as BJP national Vice President, Mehta breathed her last around 1.30 a.m. on Monday. The last rites are scheduled on Monday evening at Shivaji Park crematorium, said a party official.
Around six years ago, she had penned and released her multi-lingual autobiography, ‘Marching With Time’, detailing her life’s journey from a middle-class home-maker to a lawmaker – her career spanning as a municipal corporator to legislator to parliamentarian and then a union minister.
Top leaders from across the political spectrum on Monday expressed grief over the demise of Mehta, who was a prominent leader of the Gujarati community in Mumbai.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences: “Saddened by the passing away of Jayawantiben Mehta. We remember her rich contribution to the nation. Condolences to her family.”
Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao, who was her former colleague in the union cabinet, described Mehta as “a good orator and a committed social worker gifted with boundless energy”.
“She maintained her contact with the people, helped various social organizations, made immense contribution to the development of the state, especially her constituency of Mumbai South,” Rao said in a tribute.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he was saddened to learn of the passing of the party’s “maternal figure” who was always sensitive to public issues and contributed immensely in different fields, and inspired lakhs of party activists.
BJP Vice-President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe called her “a stormy petrel of Jan Sangh and later the BJP, and a rare leader with affectionate motherly approach”.
Recalling her services, state BJP President Raosaheb Danve said she handled effectively any responsibility assigned to her both in the party and government as the occasion demanded.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said he felt sad by Mehta’s demise and remembered her as a crusader and a fiery orator.
Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and party state spokesperson Nawab Malik mourned Mehta’s death and condoled her family.