Mumbai, July 1 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Monday described former Maharashtra chief minister Vasantrao Naik as a great son of India whose contributions were not only restricted to the state but were made to the whole country.
The president said: "Today we talk about employment guarantee programmes in rural areas, but it was Naik, who was chief minister for 11 years, who first introduced the scheme in Maharashtra during two famines in the state."
"The scheme has now been accepted and is being implemented in the whole country," Mukherjee said at the concluding ceremony of the birth centenary celebrations of Naik here Monday and released a postal cover in his honour.
Several leaders like union ministers Sharad Pawar, Sushilkumar Shinde and Praful Patel outlined the late Naik's contribution to agriculture, integration of various regions of the state, and in courageously facing two droughts in the state, and coming up with the employment guarantee scheme.
Recalling Naik's great contribution to the Green Revolution and making the state self-sufficent in food production, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that the Parbhani Agriculture University would be named after Naik.
"Memorials are being established in his native Pusad town and a museum will be set up at the college where he studied," Chavan said.
Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan released a book 'Chaturastra' (All-Rounder), on select speeches of Naik.
Born July 1, 1913, Naik was the longest serving chief minister of the state between 1963-1975, and was largely responsible for the industrialisation of the state with his progressive policies.
He died Jan 1, 1979, aged 65.
Years later, his nephew Sudhakarrao Naik also became the state chief minister in 1991 and took bold steps to control the mafia in Mumbai and surrounding areas.
However, he had to quit after his failure to control the infamous December 1992-January 1993 communal riots in Mumbai followed by the March 1993 serial bomb blasts that shook in the western megapolis.