Pune (Maharashtra) [India] (ANI): Rahul Bajaj, the man who made brand Bajaj a household name through scooter models like Chetak and Priya and the ubiquitous Bajaj three-wheeler auto, passed away at 83 on Saturday, nearly a year after stepping down as the non-executive chairman of Bajaj Auto.
A Padma Bhushan-awardee Rahul Bajaj was one of the longest-serving chairmen in corporate India. He breathed his last at Ruby Hall Hospital in Pune.
“Rahul Bajaj died today at 2.30 pm. He died due to heart and lungs problems. He was admitted for past one month in Ruby hall hospital in Pune,” Dr Parvej Grant, chairman of Ruby Hall hospital told ANI.
“It is with deep sorrow that I inform you about the passing away of Shri Rahul Bajaj, husband of the late Rupa Bajaj and father of Rajiv/Deepa, Sanjiv/Shefali and Sunaina/Manish. He passed away on the afternoon of 12th February, 2022 in the presence of his closest family members,” Bajaj Group said in a statement.
Rahul Bajaj stepped down as non-executive chairman of Bajaj Auto in April 2021, ceding the position to his cousin Niraj Bajaj.
He had stepped down from the executive role of Bajaj Group companies before his election to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, 2006. He served as a member of Rajya Sabha from 2006 to 2010.
Rahul Bajaj’s younger son Sanjiv Bajaj has taken over as chairman of both the group’s finance companies – Bajaj Finance and Bajaj Finserv. His elder son Rajiv Bajaj is Managing Director of Bajaj Auto.
Born on June 10, 1938, Rahul Bajaj took over as Chief Executive Officer of Bajaj Auto in 1968 and was appointed as Managing Director of the company in 1972. He stepped down from that position in 2005.
Bajaj also served as president or chairman of several industry bodies. He served as president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) twice – from 1979 to 1980 and again from 1999 to 2000.
He served as Chairman of the erstwhile Indian Airlines from 1986 to 1989. He also served as president of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
“Rahul Bajaj strode across the Indian industrial landscape like a colossus. He was among the few stars who created the Indian automotive industry. He was a pioneer who established a culture of quality and technology,” said Venu Srinivasan, Chairman, TVS Motor.
Rahul Bajaj held a Bachelors degree in economics, a law degree from Mumbai University and an MBA from Harvard.
Expressing his condolences Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, “Rahul Bajaj was the one who put average Indians on two motorised wheels. In his passing away, we have lost a far-sighted and outspoken business leader. My sincere condolences to his family and numerous members of the Bajaj family and Bajaj group of business.”
“Rahul Bajaj was the captain and voice of Indian Industry. He was the doyen of manufacturing and truly the pillar of the auto industry. As Secretary, DIPP interacted with him on several occasions. Admired him for being always frank and fearless. India has lost a Gr8 nation builder,” Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said in a tweet.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari also paid his tributes.
“My heartfelt tributes to Rahul Bajajji, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and former chairman of Bajaj. I had a personal relationship with Padma Bhushan awardee Rahulji for many years. Rahul ji, who has led the Bajaj Group for the last five decades, has been instrumental in the industry. May God rest the departed soul and give strength to the family members. Om Shanti,” he said in a tweet.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also condoled the demise of Bajaj.
“The demise of Rahul Bajaj the Chairman emeritus of the Bajaj Group is a loss to India’s business community. My condolences to the bereaved family and the group,” Chouhan said in a tweet.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar also expressed his condolences over Rahul Bajaj’s death.
“I am deeply shocked to learn about the sad demise of Padma Bhushan Shri Rahul Bajaj! The grandson of eminent freedom fighter Jamnalal Bajaj brought transformation in society especially in poor and middle-class people with his two-wheel technology – a Bajaj Bike!” Pawar tweeted.
“The affordable vehicle increased mobility, eased struggle for getting means of livelihood and became the tool of socio-economic change! We Indians are deeply indebted for his immense contribution to the industry,” he said in another tweet.
“I am grieved with a passing away of my very close friend. India has lost an industrialist, a philanthropist and a lighthouse for young entrepreneurs! Hamara Bajaj,” he said.
Former union minister Praful Patel said that Rahul Bajaj is credited with making the brand Bajaj a household name.
“Saddened by the passing away of renowned industrialist and one of the longest-serving chairman in corporate India, Padma Bhushan Rahul Bajajji. He is credited with making the brand Bajaj a household name. My heartfelt condolences to his family members,” Patel tweeted.
“Deeply saddened to hear about the demise of Padma Bhushan Rahul Bajaj. He was among the foremost Business Leaders our nation has seen, and an inspiration to all. We will miss him dearly and his wise counsel,” tweeted Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule. (image -instagram)