VETERAN BJP leader and first Chief Minister of Uttaranchal, Nityanand Swami passed away at Combined Medical Institute (CMI) in Dehradun on December 12 after a brief illness. He was 85. He was cremated the same day at Lakhibagh crematorium with full State honour. He is survived by four daughters.
His mortal remains were kept at his ancestral home for people to pay their last respects. Proceedings in the State Assembly were adjourned for the day after paying condolences to Swamiji and a day State mourning was declared by the State government. As the news of Swamiji passing away spread, his admirers from across the State and also from Uttar Pradesh reached Dehradun to pay their last respects. Senior BJP leaders and also leaders from different political, social and religious organisations of Dehradun also paid tribute.
In his condolence message, BJP national president Nitin Gadkari described Nityanand Swami as a prominent solider of Uttaranchal State movement. He said the State is moving on the track of development following the far sighted policies devised by his government. Wherever he worked his work left an impact.
Describing his death as a personal loss, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said Swamiji was an inspiring leader to whom he often went to seek guidance. Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Ajay Bhatt said as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand,
Swamiji gave total freedom to his ministers to work in the interest of the people.
Uttarakhand BJP chief Bishan Singh Chufal said the entire State was plunged in sorrow on hearing of Swamiji’s demise. Several BJP leaders including Maj. Gen (retd) BC Khanduri, Bhagat Sinmgh Koshiari, Dr Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’, Prakash Pant, Harbans Kapoor and Mohan Singh Rawat ‘Gaonwasi’ condoled the demise. Legislators from across the political spectrum remembered him as a warm-hearted person who was always available for young members to guide them. Cabinet Minister Pritam Singh also expressed sorrow saying that apart from having outstanding leadership quality, Swamiji also had excellent human values.
At the ripe age of 84 also, Nityanand Swami was very active and made it a point to attend as many functions as possible and to maintain social interaction with friends and admirers. Despite being a member of the BJP, he staged dharna against the BJP-led State Government and forced the government to withdraw its decision to cancel the acquisition of five villages.
Born at Narnaul in Haryana on December 27, 1927, Nityanand Swami was a lawyer and social worker before joining politics. His political career began when he won from Dehradun seat for the first time as a candidate of erstwhile Jan Sangh. He represented Dehradun seat in Uttar Pradesh Assembly and was also a member of the neighbouring State’s Legislative Council in 1984, 1990 and 1996. He was also elected to Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council from Kumaon and Garhwal graduate constituencies in 1984, 1990 and 1996. He was made vice chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council in 1991 and later rose to become its Chairman in 1992 and remained at the post till 2000. When Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh on November 9, 2000, he became its first Chief Minister and remained at the helm till October 29, 2001.
Nityanand Swami witnessed many ups and downs in his political career. He started with Jan Sangh and then continued with the BJP. For short span he was with the Congress also and later joined the Tiwari Congress. But, a RSS Pracharak at heart he finally returned to the BJP fold in the late 1990s.
In early age he left home and became a RSS Pracharak in Delhi. He returned to Dehradun in April 1948 to resume his interrupted studies and joined the DAV College. He actively participated in numerously extra-curricular activities and was an ace Hindi debater and won many inter-college and inter-university competitions. He was elected president of the student’s union in 1950-51 and was deemed one of the more successful presidents.
From college politics to State politics was a seamless transition for Swamiji. His first foray was in trade union activities, and by 1964 he had organised and successfully led nearly 24 trade unions. His first entry in legislative politics was in 1969 when he was elected to Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha on Jan Sangh ticket from Dehradun. He was also felicitated with scores of awards, including Uttar Pradesh Ratna, Uttaranchal Gaurav, Doon Ratan and Hindi Bharati Puraskar.