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Madhu Dandavate

(1924 – 2005) – (Maharashtra)

Madhu Dandavate (Aged 81) born on 21 January 1924, was an Indian physicist and socialist politician who served as Minister of Railways in the Morarji Desai ministry and as Minister of Finance in the V P Singh ministry. He was born in Ahmednagar, Bombay Presidency and studied and worked as a physicist in Bombay before participating in the Quit India Movement in 1942. After independence, he served as a Member of Parliament from Rajapur in Maharashtra from 1971 to 1991.

Dandavate was a prominent opposition leader who was jailed during the Emergency. As the Railway Minister from 1977 to 1979, he introduced many improvements, including comfortable cushioned seats for second-class passengers, which benefited millions of people. In the late 1980s, he served as the Finance Minister. Historian Ramachandra Guha considers him among the few ministers who “shall be remembered for having carried out programs that radically reshaped the lives of their people.” Dandavate was respected for his integrity, knowledge, simplicity, and pragmatism.

Dandavate entered politics as an independence activist and was the leader of a Satyagraha campaign in Goa in 1955 against Portuguese imperialism. He was a member of Praja Socialist Party, serving as chairman of its Maharashtra unit since 1948, and later also as the party’s joint secretary. He was an active leader of the Land Liberation Movement in 1969.

He was one of the prominent opposition leaders during the tenures of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Ministers. Dandavate was arrested during the Emergency in 1975 and spent time in Bangalore Central Jail. After the end of the Emergency and the 1977 elections, he served as the Minister of Railways in the Morarji Desai ministry, where he initiated a number of improvements in the country’s rail infrastructure. He passed away on 12 November 2005.