Bhardwaj had tested Covid-19 positive on August 31. After remaining under treatment at a government Covid-19 hospital for 40 days, he was airlifted to MGM Hospital in Chennai.

BJP MP in Rajya Sabha from Gujarat Abhay Bhardwaj died at a hospital in Chennai on Tuesday while undergoing treatment for Covid-19. He was 66.

Bhardwaj was elected to the Rajya Sabha in June and with his demise, second Rajya Sabha seat from Gujarat has fell vacant. Last month, Congress MP Ahmed Patel had died during Covid-19 treatment.

Bhardwaj had tested Covid-19 positive on August 31. After remaining under treatment at a government Covid-19 hospital for 40 days, he was airlifted to MGM Hospital in Chennai.

Bhardwaj is survived by wife Alka, daughters Ashka and Amruta, son Ansh and a grandson. Son of a teacher couple, Bhardwaj had been associated with the BJP since its Jan Sangh days.

He was also the nephew of BJP veteran and former Rajya Sabha member Chiman Shukla. He was also a prominent figure in the Rajkot unit of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Bhardwaj was also considered very close to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

Bhardwaj had worked as an active member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of RSS, and held the post of its national executive member. His association with Rupani was since their ABVP days.

A former bureaucrat, who was at the helm in Rajkot during that time, described Bhardwaj as a peer of Rupani in ABVP who was known as one of its “aggressive members”.

A number of dignitaries including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Governor Acharya Devvrata and Gujarat BJP chief C R Paatil expressed grief over the death of Bhardwaj.

“Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, Shri Abhay Bharadwaj Ji was a distinguished lawyer and remained at the forefront of serving society. It is sad we have lost a bright and insightful mind, passionate about national development. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also took to Twitter to condole the death.

Rupani called Bhardwaj’s death as personal loss and also loss to the state of Gujarat. “Abhaybhai was a very good lawyer. With an aggressive leadership, he was committed to the country, dharma, culture and society…His journey has been from a grassroots level worker to a Rajya Sabha MP,” Rupani said.

Governor Acharya Devavrata said that Bhardwaj’s death has created a void in the public life of Gujarat that cannot be filled up.

A lawyer by profession, Bhardwaj was a leading criminal lawyer. He was a defence counsel in the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre case in which 69 persons including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri were killed.

The state government had also appointed Bhardwaj as a special public prosecutor (SPP) in a case of alleged misuse of powers by retired IAS officer Pradip Sharma during the latter’s tenure as collector of Rajkot district. He was also appointed an SPP in the alleged illegal mining case involving Congress MLA Bhagwan Barad and alleged murder case of former BJP leader Jayanti Bhanushali.

He was also a prominent voice from Saurashtra demanding a bench of Gujarat High Court in Rajkot.

Apart from politics, Bhardwaj also acted in some films including the Raj Babbar-starrer 1990 film Agneekaal in which he played the role of a judge.

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