Yet one more liberal, friend of Freedom First – Mr. Sharad Joshi – passed away on December 12. Having met him just about six times – three visits to his Ambethan home with Mr. S. V. Raju and the rest at various seminars – I personally do not know much about Mr. Joshi. All I can remember is the smiling demeanour (as one can see in the photograph above) and his “make-you-feel-at-home” manner when he insisted that we lunch with him and which we did on two of our three visits. It was the most delicious, freshly cooked vegetarian lunch that I have ever had.
Mr. Sharad Joshi was known as a farmers’ leader. He founded Shetkari Sanghatana, the organized farmers’ movement in Maharashtra. This was in 1979. Such was his rapport with the farmers that one call from him and they would gather in scores from various parts of the state to listen to what he had to say for their benefit. He was a born leader and a great orator. He was not afraid, like most liberals I have come across, to be in a minority, if his views were for the betterment of the individual and the society. As Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, he was the only MP who voted against the women’s reservation bill and had also proposed an amendment to the Constitution that the word ‘socialism’ be removed from the Preamble to the Constitution.
In his tribute to Mr. S. V. Raju, he wrote “….. Raju always had a deep sense of affection for me …..”. In turn, Mr. Raju had great regard and respect for him and would endearingly call him Sharadji, even though he was younger to Mr. Raju.
Freedom First offers its most sincere condolences to his two daughters and to his long-time close associate, Sureshchandra Mhatre. May his soul rest in peace!