President Pranab Mukherjee, who today attended the concluding ceremony of the birth centenary celebrations of former Maharashtra Chief Minister late Vasantrao Naik, said the latter launched the revolutionary Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme which proved to be a boon for millions of farmers ravaged by two ferocious famines afflicting the state.
"The Planning Commission later approved the scheme and the same was adopted on national scale. This is the programme known today as MNREGA," he said, while speaking on the occassion.
President Mukherjee said Maharashtra witnessed stable one-party government from 1965 to 1975 under Naik's leadership.
"It must be noted that this was a period of great turbulence at the national level," he added.
President Mukherjee further recalled his meeting with Naik, and said that he first met him when he was Minister of state for Banking and Finance. He said Naik's tenure as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra is important not only for the length of tenure, but also because he provided economic and political stability to the state when the rest of country was passing through instability.
"Naik was a distinguished son of India who made immense contribution not only to Maharashtra, but also to the rest of country," he said.
Receiving the first copy of 'Chaturasra', President Mukherjee said that he is happy that Naik's selected speeches are being brought out as a book on this occasion.
"Its contents bring out in colorful detail his overall personality and his approach to the daunting problems of Maharashtra," he said.
President Mukherjee expressed the hope that the volume would encourage students of political science to undertake serious research on Shri Naik's role in the shaping of modern Maharashtra. He also said that translating the book into English would be of help to scholars outside Maharashtra who can learn about the life and thoughts of Naik. (ANI)