In an era where political leaders have their own statues erected and schemes named after them when they are well alive or riots post their deaths killing thousands are brushed off as mere shaking of the ground when a tree falls, a politician who says in his will: ‘Once I die, do not even think of erecting statues or monuments or instituting awards etc. in my name. If you want to remember me then plant and nurture trees or conserve rivers, lakes and other water bodies’, is indeed a rarity. Where does one find such selfless individuals who think only of benefiting their people, their nation, humanity and nature at large even post their demise? Late Shri Anil Madhav Dave (Minister of State with Independent Charge, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’ was one such precious gem who left this mortal world yesterday, to possibly enlighten the heavens with his brilliance.
Anil Dave was born on July 6, 1956 in Badnagar, in Ujjain district. His passion for serving the community and flair for leadership stemmed from a very young age itself- he was a member of the NCC Air Corps from his college days (he later went on to earn a private pilot licence and nurtured his passion of flying for years to come) and plunged into the JP Movement as the President of the Students’ Union of his college. He was deeply influenced by Shivaji Maharaj and his policies for upliftment of the masses during his early years. Allegiance to the worldview of the RSS flowed in his blood as his grandfather Dadasaheb Dave was a long term Swayamsevak. After completing his M. Com in Rural Development and Management, he became a full term Pracharak of the RSS and remained a dedicated soldier of nationalism till his death.
Anil Dave’s foray into the world of politics began in 2003 when he was deputed to BJP by RSS. He made his debut with a bang as he partnered with Uma Bharti to trump Digvijay Singh government and guided the BJP to power in Madhya Pradesh. As Chief of the Election Management Committee, his astute understanding of the ground realities, hold on the organisation and masterful strategy coupled with the charisma of Uma Bharti won the state for the BJP with a thumping majority. He has been holding that post during every election in Madhya Pradesh since 2003, be it Vidhan Sabha or the Lok Sabha, and one can estimate his prowess at electoral craft by looking at how BJP has dominated every single time be it under Uma Bharti and Shivraj Singh Chouhan at the state level or Advani or Modi at the national level. His loss would leave a vacuum which would be difficult to fill for the party as it gears up to battle anti-incumbency of three terms in MP come 2018.
Anil Dave was elected to the Rajya Sabha twice, in 2009 and 2016, where his expertise on a variety of matters has been adequately put to the nation’s service, be it in the opposition or the treasury benches. He served as the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) 2013 and as a member of the Parliamentary Forum on Global Warming and Climate Change. In 2016, he was appointed MoS (Independent Charge), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. He made sure that the days of ‘Jayanti Tax’ were a thing of the past and a balanced perspective was adopted towards protection of the environment (for which he shared a deep passion) and clearances to developmental projects firing the growth engines of the nation. Perhaps the most defining moment of his tenure in the ministry eluded him by a whisker as his premature demise meant he could not take the final call on introducing GM Mustard in India.
Anil Dave was a multi-faceted personality with passions extending across flying, language and writing environmental conservation and working for the empowerment of the down trodden. His foremost desire was to conserve and restore the sanctity of India’s lifelines- its rivers, Narmada in particular. He launched the Narmada Samagraha with the aim of conserving the river and its catchment areas.
Despite keeping unwell for the past few months he made it a point to attend the Naramda Seva Yatra just a week before his demise. In today’s world- swaraj and jan sahyog may have become mere rhetoric for some, but for Dave it was a lifelong dedication. His initiative to launch an umbrella organisation for NGOs and Self Help Groups, the Jan Abhiyan Parishad is a testimony of the same. His flair for the literary world is evident in his indispensable role in organisation of the World Hindi Conference in Bhopal and the several books, in both Hindi and English, written by him.
May his soul attain Sadgati, Om Shanti!