Mah Assembly pays glowing tributes to Navalkar, adjourns

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Nagpur, Nov 21 (UNI) The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly adjourned here today after paying glowing tributes to Shiv Sena leader, former minister and former legislator Pramod Navalkar, who passed away in Mumbai last evening.

Cutting across party lines, members recalled Navalkar's contribution to the social, political, cultural and literary fields of the state, as well as several instances of his quick wit, sense of humour and imagination. Although the occasion was sombre, memories of his wit brought a smile to everybody's lips.

An emotional Minister for Revenue Narayan Rane and Minister for Public Works Chhagan Bhujbal, both themselves former Shiv Sena men, recalled their association with the late Mr Navalkar.

Mr Rane said Navalkar made efforts to change the image of the Shiv Sena and it was because of men like him that the party grew. The late former minister never indulged in the politics of revenge and was, therefore, popular across all parties, he said.

Describing Navalkar as an institution by himself, Mr Rane said the late legislator was large hearted.

''Part of the credit for my rise in politics goes to Mr Navalkar.

He remained my guide till the very end,'' Mr Rane said in a choked voice, ''He made it a point to send me a packet of 'puranpolis' (a special Maharashtrian delicacy) every month.'' Recalling the day he became Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Rane said barely 30 minutes after he took oath, Navalkar came to his chamber and complimented him, saying it was a joy to see someone he knew as a child to go on to occupy the top political post in the state.

''Shortly before I quit the Shiv Sena, Navalkar came to me to persuade me to change my decision, and wished me luck when I remained steadfast on my decision,'' he also recalled.

Mr Bhujbal, whose defection from the Shiv Sena to the Congress, incidentally during the Winter Session in Nagpur in 1991, had created a storm in the political field in the state, said his name first appeared in print decades ago because of Navalkar, who was working with Marathi daily 'Navshakti' of Mumbai at the time. ''He never made enemies, except with social evils. He was more of a social worker than a politician, and remained a resident of Girgaum in Mumbai till the very end,'' Mr Bhujbal said, adding that the late leader was among the front rung of Shiv Sena leaders and among the closest confidants of party chief Balasaheb Thackeray.

Former deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde (BJP) said Navalkar was popular across party lines and had an all-round personality.

''At the first meeting of the cabinet after the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government came into power, Mr Navalkar said all the ministers should be trained about the noting to be made on files. He then jocularly remarked that he would send a file first to his minister of state for his comments, and then straight to the chief minister for a decision, and quipped that this would save him the trouble of making a noting,'' Mr Munde said.

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