New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) Balraj Madhok, a founder leader of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh who was later sacked from the party, died here on Monday, his associates said. He was 96.
Madhok, who had been ill for some days, died around 9.00 a.m. at his residence in New Rajendra Nagar in central Delhi, a Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh spokesman told IANS.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Madhok “was selflessly devoted to the nation and society” and “his ideological commitment was strong and clarity of thought immense”.
BJP leader L.K. Advani, who as the then Jana Sangh president sacked Madhok in 1973, said: “I am deeply grieved to learn about the passing away of Balraj Madhok.
“He founded the Jammu Praja Parishad in November 1947 and was the founder member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP),” Advani said.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi also expressed sorrow over the death.
Born on February 25, 1920 in Skardu now in Pakistan, Madhok was educated in Srinagar and Lahore. Two years before he graduated in 1940, he became a member of the RSS in Lahore.
He became a full-time member of the RSS in 1942 and became politically active in Jammu and Kashmir. At one point, Sheikh Abdullah externed him from the state.
Initially associated with the Praja Parishad Party in Jammu, Madhok joined hands with others to form the Jana Sangh.
Elected to the Lok Sabha in 1961, Madhok served as the president of the Jana Sangh in 1966-67 when the party was a force in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and then undivided Madhya Pradesh.
Although his marginalization in the Jana Sangh began in 1973, when then president Advani expelled Madhok from the party, he was among the thousands of political activists jailed during the 1975-77 Emergency era.
Post Emergency, Madhok set up the Akhil Bharatiya Jana Sangh but it failed to click and the former Jana Sangh president slowly faded away.