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Issue No.: 550 | April 2013
 

Viren J. Shah, R.I.P

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Industrialist, Member if the Rajya Sabha, Governor of West Bengal,  treasurer of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Swatantra Party Member of the 4th Lok Sabha, passed away in Jordan where he was on a holiday.



At a meeting on August 1, 2009 commemorating the 50th year of the Founding of the Swatantra Party, Viren Shah reminiscing about his years said, "I started my active political work with the Communist Party of India as a student in 1942. The CPI’s head office was then on Sandhurst Road in a building named Raj Bhavan. So, when I went to Raj Bhavan in Kolkata as Governor of West Bengal, I reminded Jyotibabu, the then Chief Minister, that from Mumbai Raj Bhavan, at Sandhurst Road, I had come to Kolkata’s Raj Bhavan. Till 1966, I still had a very strong feeling for the Socialist Party, great respect for Jayaprakash Narayan and  Achyut Pawardhan who had just retired from active politics, Ram Manohar Lohia, and also for my friends in the PSP, Nath Pai in particular”.


Influenced by what Rajaji had to say about state capitalism and the licence-permit-quota raj, he joined the Swatantra Party, contested the 1967 elections to win the Lok Sabha seat from Junagadh.       

    

He was a responsible member of parliament and played the role of running his company and representing the people of Junagadh without the one interfering with the other. The Swatantra between 1967 and 1971 was the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha and Virenbhai had the opportunity to speak often and receive encomiums not only from the Party leadership but from other parties as well.


During the Emergency of Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1975, he went underground to defy the Emergency regulations. With the lifting of the Emergency, he responded to Jayaprakash Narayan’s call and joined the Janata Party. Sadly, the Janata Party split and he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.


His was an active, courageous, even colourful life. He was arrested during the Emergency and charged for sabotage in what came to be known as the Baroda Conspiracy case.  Soon the Emergency was lifted and he was out of prison and the conspiracy case was dropped. 

 
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