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Ram Khandekar, close aide to ex-PM Narasimha Rao, dies at 87

Ram Khandekar, who had worked as an officer on special duty (OSD) to former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao, died after prolonged illness here late on Tuesday night. He was 87.

Khandekar is survived by his son Mukul, daughter-in-law Sangeeta and two grandchildren – Gaurang and Janhavi – besides a host of relatives.

Earlier, Khandekar had worked as the personal secretary to former Maharashtra chief minister and former defence minister late YB Chavan. Later, he had also worked with former Union minister late Vasant Sathe, from 1980 to 1985.

When Rao was defeated in Hamankonda in his home state of Andhra Pradesh but elected from the Ramtek Lok Sabha constituency in Vidarbha in 1985, he needed someone trustworthy to look after his constituency. So, he asked Sathe to suggest someone. Sathe recommended Khandekar to Rao.

When Rao became the prime minister in 1991, he appointed Khandekar as his OSD. Khandekar remained Rao’s close associate till the latter’s death. Khandekar often wrote for scores of newspapers, throwing light on the politics and governance of those days.

In 2018, he wrote a weekly column for Loksatta based on his vast experience of over five decades of public life. The same was published as a book called ‘Sattechya Padchhayet’ (In the Shadow of Power) in 2019.

In his articles, Khandekar had explicitly noted that the Congress had not done justice to Rao for his contribution to the party and governance.

Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Vilas Muttemwar said, “He was a very gentle and soft-spoken person and never rubbed anyone the wrong way despite being PM Rao’s trusted man. Very few could actually get to meet the PM. So most of the people, including senior officials and people’s representatives, had to settle for a meeting with Khandekar, who would give them patient hearing, note down their points and put it up for action before the PM. I was the Lok Sabha Parliamentary Board secretary then. So I had to often meet him. He always came across as a very low-profile man without any high ambitions.”

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