Mumbai: Veteran trade unionist and socialist leader Sharad Rao died here on Thursday after a two-year fight with chronic ulcers. He was 75.

The aggressive union leader breathed his last at Nanavati Hospital in Vile Parle around 4 pm, an official said.

He is survived by his wife Shanta, son Shashank and daughter Shilpa who is settled in Canada.

Rao controlled a large chunk of the Mumbai public transport and civic services system through the BEST Workers Union, Municipal Mazdoor Union and Mumbai Autorickshaw men’s Union and was reputedly one man who could bring the city to a grinding halt by a strike.

(Also Read: Trade unions all set for nationwide strike on September 2)

He was a close associate of another prominent trade union leader and former Union Minister George Fernandes, and other top leftist and socialist leaders.

His daughter is to reach India in the early hours of Saturday. Rao’s funeral will be performed in Goregaon west around 11 am on September 3, an aide said.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu condoled the demise of Rao whom he described as a great union leader and a longtime friend.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed grief at the demise of Rao and recalled his lifelong struggles for the rights of the common workers through his different unions.

Maharashtra Minister Pankaja Munde, former Chief Minister and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee President Ashok Chavan, Lok Bharati President Kapil Patil, senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule, NCP Women’s Wing leader Chitra Wagh and leaders from different political parties and unions expressed their condolences.

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