Mumbai/Nagpur: Veteran trade union leader Sharad Rao passed away in Mumbai today, following a prolonged sickness.
Rao was heading several influential trade unions in the city, including the BEST union and Mumbai Autorickshawsmen’s Union that represents majority of auto rickshaw drivers in the city.
For the past two years, 75-year-old Rao was under treatment for cancer. He had handed over the baton to his son Shashank Rao. He was once a trusted lieutenant of veteran socialist leader George Fernandes.
Sharad Rao took over control of trade unions run by Fernandes after the latter moved to national politics. Starting his career from Bombay Labour Union, he went on to form unions of auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, hotel workers, and which he led too.
He was also an active member of Samajwadi Party and then Janata Dal (Secular). Then, he joined the Nationalist Congress Party. He fought many Assembly elections, but never got elected.
Politicians took to Twitter to express condolences:
@Pankajamunde: My heartfelt condolences to Shashank Rao n family on sad demise of transport union leader Shri Sharad Rao ji. May his soul rest in peace.
@supriya_sule: Saddened to hear about senior labour leader Sharad Rao. Deep condolences to his family. RIP