Hyderabad: Former BJP president Bangaru Laxman, who died here this evening, would be remembered as one of the party’s leading Dalit face who was brought down by `sting journalism’ and never recovered from the blow.
Born in a Dalit family on March 17, 1939, Laxman graduated in law while taking active part in politics since his teenage years. He was associated with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh from the beginning.
He was with Jan Sangh when it was born in 1969 and later rose in ranks in its later avatar BJP.
Prior to entering politics, he had worked with AP State Electricity Board and was associated with trade union activities.
He was jailed in 1975 when political workers of opposition parties were arrested during the Emergency rule imposed by Indira Gandhi government.
Laxman served as AP unit president of BJP before becoming its national executive member, national secretary and eventually its first Dalit president in 2000.
He was a member of Rajya Sabha from 1996 to 2002 and served as Union Minister of State for Railways in NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee between 1999 and 2000.
When he was President of BJP (2000-01), he was caught on camera in a sting operation by Tehelka which showed him accepting Rs one lakh for clinching a defence deal.
He had to quit as BJP chief and it spelt the end of his political career.
A Delhi court in 2012 sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment in connection with the case but he was granted bail because of poor health.
Laxman’s wife Susheela won the Lok Sabha seat as BJP candidate from Jalore in Rajasthan.
Since his conviction, Laxman was rarely found at BJP programmes. But he did come out with a statement late last year when Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal was arrested in a sexual assault case in Goa. “I stand vindicated,” Laxman said.