इंडियन आवाज़     01 Dec 2023 04:27:50      انڈین آواز

Madhu Limaye; Man of Conviction and Courage

He was a committed socialist, a distinguished parliamentarian, Champion of the civil liberties, a prolific writer and dedicated to the cause of the common man. The virtues of simplicity, austerity, high moral and Gandhian philosophy of peace and non-violence earned him distinct place among the galaxy of leaders. As a socialist stalwart he guided the socialist movement in the country through out his life.

Early life

Limaye son of Shri Ramchandra Mahadev Limaye was born on 1, May 1922 at Poona in Maharashtra. Limaye had his Middle School education from. A brilliant from child hood, Limaye completed his Fifth, Sixth and Seventh standard in just one year Saraswati Mandir Poona. He was, however, denied permission to appear for the Matriculation examination at the age of 13. The interruption in formal schooling provided him with an opportunity to read books on history, freedom movement in various countries and biographies of great personalities. After having his school education, Madhu Limaye enrolled for higher education at the Fergusson College, Poona in 1937 and opted World history, Indian Administration, English and Sanskrit as subject. It was during this period that Limaye was attracted towards the socialist ideas. He started participating in the student movements and became an active member of the All India Students Federation. Since then Limaye’s journey to free the humanity from the bondage of colonialism, deprivation and injustice began.

Freedom Fighter
Madhu Limaye entered into the politics at the very tender age when he joined a May Day procession on his 15th birthday in Poona in 1937. This procession was attacked violently by RSS volunteers. Leaders of this procession Senapati Bapat and SM Joshi injured in this attack badly. This was the first date of Madhu Limaye with politics of struggle and resistance.

After this baptism, Madhu came in close contact of SM Joshi, N G Goray and Pandurang S. Sane alias Sane Guru ji and attracted drastically towards national movement and socialist ideology along with his other contemporaries V.N. alias Anna Sane, Keshav alias (Bandu) Gorey, Gangadhar Ogle, Madhav Limaye and Vinayak Kulkarni and joined their study circle. On 31st December 1938 this group decided to be the full time worker of Indian National Congress and the CSP. SM Joshi was the General Secretary of the Poona District Congress Committee as well as Secretary of the Provincial Congress Socialist Party. In 1939, SM, appointed Madhu Limaye, the district General Secretary of The Poona Congress Socialist Party (CSP) at the age of 17. Young Madhu Limaye organised CSP in Poona with devotion. Same year two renowned socialist leaders Jayparakash Narayan and Dr Rammanohar Lohia visited Poona and were impressed with the skills of Madhu Limaye.

In 1939, when the Second World War broke out, he thought that this was an opportunity to free the country from the colonial rule. In October, 1940, Madhu Limaye started campaigning against war and was arrested for his anti war speeches and put up in Dhuliya jail of Khandesh region almost for one year. He was released in September, 1941 and undertook the task of organizing Rashtra Sewa Dal and youth camps in different part of Maharashtra.

In August 1942, AICC held its conference in Bombay, where Mahatma Gandhi gave the call of ‘Quit India’. This was the first time when Madhu Limaye saw Gandhiji from close quarter. Many senior leaders of the Congress party including Gandhiji were arrested. Madhu went underground along with some of his colleagues and played key role in underground resistance movement along with Achuyt Patwardhan and Aruna Asif Ali. He established a printing press and started ‘Krantikari’ a Marathi journal edited by Achyut Patwardhan and SM Joshi.

He was arrested under the Defence of India Rules (DIR) and was detained without trial in the Jails of Worli, Yervada and Visapur till July 1945.During his detention, the British Government tried its best to extract the secrets of the underground activities from him, but Limaye remained tight-lipped despite severe atrocities committed by the police on him.

Socialist to the core
Madhu Limaye was associated with the Indian National Congress, and the Congress Socialist Party almost for one decade, 1938—48.He attended the CSP’s Kanpur Conference in February, 1947, where the prefix ‘Congress’ was removed from the Socialist Party. Limaye was in the forefront of the reorganizing the Socialist Party and was given responsibility of the Khandesh region. He successfully moblised trade union workers and brought the peasants and the youth into the socialist fold. In 1947, he attended Socialist International’s Antwerp (Belgium) conference as a sole delegate of Indian Socialist Movement. He was elected to the National Executive, of the Socialist Party at Nasik Conference, 1948, and as the Joint Secretary of the Socialist Party at its Patna Conference in 1949. He was the Secretary, Foreign Affairs Committee, Socialist Party and Asian Socialist Bureau, Rangoon, 1953. Madhu Limye also got elected, Joint Secretary, Praja Socialist Party at its first Conference held at Allahabad, 1953-54.

After serving  Congress Socialist Party, Socialist Party and  Praja Socialist Party, Madhu Limaye was elected the Chairman of the  Socialist Party at its National Conference held at Sherghati (Gaya) in April, 1958.During his  Chairmanship, great efforts were made in strengthening the organization by adopting specific policies and concrete action plan. His belief in socialism was not dogmatic or doctrinaire, but was a way of life. To him, unless the hierarchical social order was destroyed, social justice would be a distant dream for a large section of the society. As one of the most dynamic leaders of the Socialist Movement, Madhu Limaye strove ceaselessly to translate the socialist ideals into national ethos.

Goa Liberation Movement

Madhu Limaye participated in the Goa Liberation Movement, in mid fifties, which was launched by his mentor Dr Rammanohar Lohia in 1946.A staunch critic of colonialism, Limaye led a mass Satyagraha in 1955 and entered Goa. At Pedne, the Portuguese police attacked the satyagrahis violently, resulting in some deaths and injuries on a large scale. Madhu Limaye was beaten up brutally.

He was kept in police custody for five months. In December 1955, the Portuguese Military Tribunal sentenced him 12 years imprisonment. But, he neither offered any defence nor appealed against the heavy sentence. Once he wrote ‘It was in Goa that I have realized how profoundly Gandhiji has transformed my life, how deeply he has shaped my personality and will.’ During the Goa Liberation Movement, he spent over 19 months in Portuguese captivity.During captivity he wrote a book ‘Goa Liberation Movement and Madhu Limaye’ as a prison diary. The book was published in 1996 on the occasion of golden jubilee of the launch of the Goa movement in 1946.

After his release from the Portuguese custody in 1957, he continued to mobiles the masses and sought support from different sections and urged the Government of India to take firm steps towards the liberation of Goa. After this mass Satyagraha Government of India was compelled to take military action and liberated Goa from the Portuguese rule. Goa was ultimately liberated in December 1961 and become an integral part of India.

An Illustrious Parliamentarian

A parliamentarian par excellence, Madhu Limaye was elected four times to Lok Sabha from 1964 to 1979.He is known for his deep understanding of various subjects, through knowledge of Rules of Procedure and effective use of parliamentary devices. He was an encyclopedia of the Indian Constitution and his speeches in Parliament on constitutional matters are a milestone and not only reflected erudition, maturity and understanding but also demonstrated his concern and commitment for the cause of common man. Whenever he rose to speak, members across the party line listened to him with rapt attention.

Expert of world affairs

Limaye was a firm believer in the principles of Non-alignment. To him, the concept of Non-alignment was deep-rooted within the framework of freedom struggle, the basis of which has been anti-colonialism, freedom for all people, disarmament, protection of economic interests of the developing countries and world peace.

He wanted to inject a new content and dimension to the non-aligned movement to make it more people oriented.  On the nuclear issue, he always emphasized that unless all nuclear powers agree to total disarmament, including destruction of the accumulated nuclear arsenals, India should make no compromise in the matter of its own nuclear development. In this respect, he believed that India must develop its own nuclear technology as early as possible to become self-reliant.

In the event of an impending threat to India’s security due to the crisis in Bangladesh in 1971, Limaye lent his unstinted support to the then government of India. In fact, he persuaded Jayaprakash Narayan to take the lead in mobilizing world opinion in favour of the liberation of Bangladesh, which was primarily the responsibility of the Government of India. But a true nationalist like Limaye did not sit idle in the moment of national crisis. He also toured various countries to garner international support for the liberation of Bangladesh.

Committed to Democratic Values

With a firm belief in democracy and democratic values, Limaye fought relentlessly to protect the parliamentary sovereignty. Through his writings, speeches and actions he sought to protect democratic heritage in more ways than one. His protest from jail against the extension of the term of fifth Lok Sabha bears testimony to this.


Madhu, played an active part in the JP movement and in the effort to create a united opposition party, 1974-77. He was detained under MISA from July 1975 to February 1977 in various Madhya Pradesh Jails. He resigned in protest, from membership of the fifth Lok Sabha, on immoral extension of its term by Indira Gandhi through abuse of constitutional provisions about emergency along with his young Comrade Sharad Yadav.

He was active in the formation of the Janata Party and the coalition that gained power at the Centre following the emergency. He was elected General Secretary of the Janata Party, on his 55th birthday on 1 May 1977. But he was also blamed for the collapse of the Morarji Desai led Janata coalition government, by insisting that no member of the Janata party could simultaneously be a member of an alternative social or political organisation.

This attack on dual membership was directed specifically at members of the Janata party who had been members of the Jan Sangh and continued to be members of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, RSS, the Jan Sangh’s ideological parent. The issue led to fall of Janata government in 1979, and the destruction of the Janata Party. Later he joined Charan Singh camp and became General Secretary, of his Janata Party (S) and Lok Dal, 1979-82. In 1982 he breaks away with Lok Dal and formed Lok Dal (K). Madhu Limaye retired from the active politics in 1982 .
Prolific Writer
Like his performance on the floor of Lok Sabha, his writings are also logical and incisive, fearless and forthright, backed by facts and historical perspective. Though he remained aloof from active politics since 1982, he continued to voice his concern on issues pertaining to the social, political and economic development of the nation through his numerous writings.

His scholarly attributes are well reflected in his works, which cover a varied range of subjects of constitutional and parliamentary relevance and of national importance. The national and international issues that had been raised by Madhu Limaye in his writings are bound to provide enough food for thought. Madhu Limaye would ever be remembered by the countrymen for his brilliant ideas, which have great relevance for generations to come. Some of his works include, India Polity in Transition, India and the World, Birth of Non- Congressism, Communist Party: Facts and Fiction and Evolution of Socialist Party. His writings are reflective of his deep understanding of the numerous issues confronting the Indian society during different phases of History. His works also give an insight into the prevailing socio-economic and political situation and the views of the socialist leaders of his time.

Madhu Limaye wrote more than 100 books in English, Hindi and Marathi and contributed more than 1000 articles in various periodicals, journals and newspapers.

Last Phase

After his retirement from active politics in 1982 after the formation of Lok Dal (K), he continued his writing.  he was especially caustic on Constitutional issues, where he set himself the task of defending the Constitution in the media against those who would seek to modify it to centralize power, or to replace the Westminster system with a Presidential one, fearing a ‘slow slide to despotism.

Madhu Limaye passed away on 8 January 1995 in New Delhi at the age of 72 after a brief illness. Limaye will be remembered by generations to come for his relentless struggle to protect civil liberties and championing, the cause of social justice.

Madhu Limaye married Professor Champa Gupte on 15 May 1952. She proved a great source of inspiration and support to him, both in his personal and public life. Champa Gupte nee Limaye was a strong woman with an abiding faith in the principles and ideals of socialism and stood by Limaye all through in his struggles and travails.

A man of utmost integrity, Madhu Limaye always acted with conviction. He has set an example of highest moral and ethical norms in public life. Country will always miss a leader like him.

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