Former BJP president Bangaru Laxman is dead

Hyderabad, March 1: Former BJP president Bangaru Laxman, who was sentenced to four years in jail in a corruption case, died here Saturday after prolonged illness, family sources said. He was 74.

Laxman breathed his last at a private hospital in Secunderabad Saturday evening. He is survived by wife, a son and three daughters.

Laxman was union minister of state for railways from 1999 to 2000 in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 2000-2001.

He quit as party chief when he was caught on camera while taking bribe in a sting operation by news website Tehelka in 2001 in a fictitious arms deal.

He was shown accepting Rs.1 lakh from journalists posing as arms dealers to recommend to the defence ministry to award them a contract to supply their equipment to the army.

A special CBI court April 27, 2012 sentenced Laxman to four years in prison and imposed a fine of Rs.1 lakh.

He was arrested and sent to jail. In October the same year, the Delhi High Court granted bail to Laxman on medical grounds.

The BJP leader had earlier pleaded for leniency, claiming he was a heart patient and had undergone a coronary bypass.

Born in a Dalit family March 17, 1939, he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at a young age. In 1969, he became a member of Jan Sangh and was jailed during emergency in 1975.

He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1996. He held many positions in the BJP and was the first Dalit president of the party.

His wife Susheela Bangaru Laxman was elected to the Lok Sabha from Jalore in Rajasthan in 2004.

IANS