Madhu Dandavate
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission
In office
1 August 1996 – 21 March 1998
Preceded byPranab Mukherjee
Succeeded byJaswant Singh
In office
7 July 1990 – 10 December 1990
Preceded byRamakrishna Hegde
Succeeded byMohan Dharia
Minister of Finance
In office
2 December 1989 – 10 November 1990
Prime MinisterV. P. Singh
Preceded byShankarrao Chavan
Succeeded byYashwant Sinha
Minister of Railways
In office
Prime MinisterMorarji Desai
Preceded byKamalapati Tripathi
Succeeded byKamalapati Tripathi
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
Preceded byNath Pai
Succeeded bySudhir Sawant
ConstituencyRajapur, Maharashtra
Member of Maharashtra Legislative Council
In office
Personal details
Born(1924-01-21)21 January 1924
Ahmednagar, Bombay Presidency, British India (now in Maharashtra, India)
Died12 November 2005(2005-11-12) (aged 81)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Nationality British India (1924-1947)
 India (1947-2005)
Political partyJanata Dal
Other political
Janata Party[1]
Praja Socialist Party[2]
(m. 1953; died 2001)
ChildrenUday Dandavate (Son)
Source: [2]

Madhu Dandavate (21 January 1924 – 12 November 2005) was an Indian physicist and socialist politician, who served as Minister of Railways in the Morarji Desai ministry, and as Minister of Finance in the V P Singh ministry.[3][4][5]

Born in Ahmednagar, Bombay Presidency, Dandavate studied and was employed as a physicist in Bombay, before participating in the Quit India Movement in 1942.[3][6] After independence, he served as a Member of Parliament from Rajapur in Maharashtra from 1971 to 1991.[3][7] As an opposition politician, Dandavate was jailed during the Emergency.[8] Serving as Railway Minister from 1977 to 1979, he initiated a number of improvements, most notably providing more comfortable cushioned seats to second-class passengers, a measure that "helped hundreds of millions of people". Later in the late 1980s, he served as Finance Minister.[4][3][9]

A prominent socialist politician and opposition leader, Dandavate was respected for his integrity, knowledge, simplicity and pragmatism, with historian Ramachandra Guha placing him among the few ministers who "shall be remembered for having carried out programmes that radically reshaped the lives of their people".[4][3][7][9]

Early life and career

Madhu Dandavate was born in a Marathi Deshastha Brahmin family[10] in Ahmednagar on January 21, 1924, the son of Ramachandra Dandavate.[6][7] After completing his M.Sc. in Physics from Royal Institute of Science, Bombay, he headed the Physics department at Siddhartha College of Arts and Sciences, Bombay.[3]

Political career

Dandavate entered politics as an independence activist, participating in the Quit India Movement in 1942. He was the leader of a Satyagraha campaign in Goa in 1955 against Portuguese imperialism.[6][3]

He was a member of Praja Socialist Party, and since 1948 served as chairman of its Maharashtra unit. Later, he also served as the party's joint secretary.[citation needed] He was an active leader of the Land Liberation Movement, 1969.[citation needed]

During 1970–71, Dandavate was a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.[7] From 1971 to 1990, he was a Member of Parliament, elected to the Lok Sabha for five consecutive terms from Rajapur in Konkan, Maharashtra.[6] He was one of the prominent opposition leaders during Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi's tenures as Prime Ministers.[3]

Dandavate was arrested during the Emergency in 1975, spending time in Bangalore Central Jail.[11][12][13][8]

After the end of the Emergency and the 1977 elections, Dandavate served as the Minister of Railways in the Morarji Desai ministry. He initiated a number of improvements in the country's rail infrastructure. These included the computerization of railway reservations, which reduced corruption among booking clerks and uncertainty among passengers; sanctioning the first phase of the Konkan Railway in 1978–79, with a line from Apta to Roha; and the repair or replacement of 5000 kilometres of worn-out tracks. Most notably, he introduced cushioned berths for passengers of second-class sleeper coaches, replacing the existing wooden berths, to provide for a more comfortable journey. While initially implemented in the major trunk lines, all trains had these padded berths in their second-class compartments by the end of the 1980s.[14][3][4]

As a parliamentarian, one of his major interventions during the enactment of the Anti-Defection Law in 1985 was the incorporation of a safety clause to allow dissent.[7]

Dandavate later served as the Finance Minister in the cabinet of V. P. Singh.[5] His parliamentary career ended after his loss to Major Sudhir Sawant of the Congress in 1991, and he slowly receded from national politics.[7]

He was also the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission in 1990, and again from 1996 to 1998.


After a protracted period of suffering from cancer, Dandavate died at the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai on 12 November 2005, at the age of 81.[5] As per his wishes, his body was donated to the city's J. J. Hospital.[7]

Personal life

Madhu Dandavate was married to Pramila Dandavate, who was also prominently involved in the socialist movement in India, in 1953.[3][8] She was a member of the 7th Lok Sabha after being elected in the 1980 general election from the Mumbai North Central constituency.[15] During their 18-month detention during the Emergency, with Madhu lodged in Bangalore Central Jail and Pramila in Yerawada Jail in Pune, the couple wrote each other 200 letters, discussing issues like music, books, philosophy and love.[3][8]

Pramila died on 31 December 2001 after a heart attack.[16] The couple had one son, Uday, who studied at the National Institute of Design, and owns a design research consulting company in San Francisco, US. In 2014, Uday Dandavate joined the Aam Aadmi Party.[17]


A prominent socialist politician and opposition leader, Dandavate was known for his incisive speeches laced with wit and humour, often raising issues of public importance during Zero Hour in Parliament.[7] He was also hailed for his integrity and humility.[3][4]

In India After Gandhi, historian Ramachandra Guha highlights Dandavate's pragmatism, stating that "his socialism eschewed rhetoric against the rich in favour of policies for the poor. As he [Dandavate] put it, 'what I want to do is not degrade the first class but elevate the second class'."[9] Noting his role in the introduction of cushioned seats in trains, Guha writes that "those two inches of foam" have probably "brought more succour to more people than any other initiative by an Indian politician". Guha thus places him among the few ministers who "shall be remembered for having carried out programmes that radically reshaped the lives of their people".[4]


Dandavate authored a number of books. His speeches and lectures have also been published.


  1. ^ "State wise Details Maharashtra". Lok Sabha. Archived from the original on 1 July 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  2. ^ "General Elections, India, 1971 - Constituency Wise Detailed Results" (PDF). Election Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Deol, Taran (21 January 2020). "Madhu Dandavate — two inches of foam that he gifted Indians and the letters he wrote". ThePrint. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Guha, Ramachandra (20 November 2005). "TWO INCHES OF FOAM, The Hindu". Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "Madhu Dandavate passes away at 81". The Times of India. 13 November 2005. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d "Member's Profile -9th Lok Sabha". Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Veteran Socialist Madhu Dandavate passes away". Zee News. 12 November 2005. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d Ashraf, Ajaz (25 June 2019). "44th anniversary of Emergency: How love letters between Madhu and Pramila Dandavate in jail defied odds of authoritarian rule". Firstpost. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Guha, Ramachandra (2008). India After Gandhi. London: Picador. pp. 526–527. ISBN 978-0-330-50554-3.
  10. ^ "Madhu Dandavate the Finance Minister of India". India Infoline.
  11. ^ Selections from Regional Press -2002 - Volume 21 - Page 36
  12. ^ Dialogue with Life by Madhu Dandavate- Page 109
  13. ^ [1] Case Studies on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: A World Survey, Volume 3- 1987
  14. ^ Editorial (22 February 2018). "February 22, 1978, Forty Years Ago". The Indian Express. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  15. ^ "Members Bioprofile - Dandavate, Shrimati Pramila". Lok Sabha. Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  16. ^ "Pramila Dandavate dead". The Hindu. 2 January 2005. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  17. ^ News Desk (16 January 2014). "Former Railway Minister Madhu Dandavate's son Uday joins AAP". IndiaTV. Retrieved 11 September 2020.

Further reading

Preceded byKamalapati Tripathi Minister of Railways 1977–1979 Succeeded byKamalapati Tripathi Preceded byS. B. Chavan Finance Minister of India 1989–1990 Succeeded byYashwant Sinha