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Rahul Bajaj resigns: Man behind Bajaj Chetak, Priya and more iconic two-wheelers says goodbye

Rahul Bajaj announced that he will step down from the non-executive chairman position of Bajaj Auto. The decision is already in effect after his announcement yesterday. Rahul Bajaj had already stepped down from the executive chairman position last year to hold the non-executive position.

Rahul Bajaj resigns: Man behind Bajaj Chetak, Priya and more iconic two-wheelers says goodbye

Bajaj is one of the longest-serving chairmen in any of the corporates in India. In fact, Rahul Bajaj is the second-longest serving chairman in India after KM Mammen Mappillai, who is the founder of MRF. He held the post for 51 years.

”Shri Rahul Bajaj, Non-executive Chairman of the Company, having been at the helm of the Company since 1972 and the Group for five decades, considering his age, has tendered his resignation as a non-executive director and Chairman of the Company with effect from close of business hours on 30 April 2021,” said Bajaj Auto in its statement today.

Rahul Bajaj was appointed as director of the company on 1st April 1970. He was reappointed several times during his tenure with the company. The last reappointment by the board of the company was for a five-year term and it started on April 1, 2015.

Bajaj Auto in its statement also said that Mr Rahul Bajaj made a massive contribution to the company. The company still wants to gain experience from the knowledge of Rahul Bajaj and that is why he will remain associated with the company in the future too. The board of directors of Bajaj Auto have approved the appointment of Rahul Bajaj as Chairman Emeritus.

Rahul Bajaj is known for his contributions to the Indian automobile market. He will turn 83 in June 2021. Age is the primary reason behind his resignation. In 2020, he also stepped down as chairman of Bajaj Finance, which is the biggest company in the Bajaj Group, and later he resigned from Bajaj Finserv too.

The Chetak man

Rahul Bajaj is credited for revolutionising the Bajaj name in India. It became a household name and it was under Rahul Bajaj’s leadership that the brand launched revolutionary scooters like the Chetak and the Priya in 1970s. Rahul Bajaj was also the man behind the “Humara Bajaj” marketing campaign, which is seen as one of the most iconic campaigns in India.

Bajaj launched the Chetaik, which was the brand’s one of the first independent two-wheeler models. The design of the scooter was heavily inspired by the Vespa scooters from Italy. The Chetak became a major success for the brand in India and Bajaj became a household name in middle-class households. There was a time when Chetak was on a long waiting period, so long that some customers had to wait for years. There was a production cap on the manufacturers back then, which created such long waiting periods.

In 2005, when Rahul Bajaj’s elder son – Rajiv Bajaj was appointed as the Managing Director of the company, the Chetak’s production also came to an end.

It was not only the scooters that Rahul Bajaj revolutionised in India. Bajaj used to manufacture and sell three-wheelers and mini trucks under license from Tempo, Germany. The unit and the arm of the company was later sold to the Firodia Group, which is now known as the Force Motors.