Anil Madhav Dave, whose selection as Environment Minister last July surprised many, died this morning. He was unwell for the last few months and functioning only partially.
Dave, 60, had contracted pneumonia in January this year and had not been able to recover fully after that. But he spent a long time in office on Wednesday, holding meetings. He had detailed discussions with a group of activists who had gone to Environment Ministry to protest against clearance granted to a genetically modified mustard variety.
In the evening, he had a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I was with Anil Madhav Dave ji till late last evening discussing key policy issues. This demise is a personal loss,” Modi said in a message on his Twitter page, mourning the death of Dave.
Dave was supposed to go to Coimbatore today to attend a function but he complained of unease last night and had to be taken to AIIMS. MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh this morning said Dave passed away following a cardiac arrest.
A Gujarati bachelor who lived almost his entire life in Madhya Pradesh, Dave followed a very regulated and austere life. He was a vegetarian, ate very little, and an avid yoga practioner. He used to do yoga in the morning as well as evening, even if he was in office. A Rajya Sabha MP since 2009, Dave has been associated with a campaign for conservation of Narmada river since long. Last Monday, he attended an event related to Madhya Pradesh government’s Narmada Yatra in Indore despite his ill-health.
Before being appointed as Environment Minister, Dave had never held any official position besides being an MP. Though he was a student leader and was associated with various social causes including conservation of Narmada, his foray in active politics came only in the early years of the previous decade. He was considered close to Uma Bharti, then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and now Water Resources Minister in the union cabinet.
Dave used to espouse the causes of vegetarianism, organic and natural farming, healthy rivers and used to oppose big dams. Despite his genial personality and extremely soft-spoken manners, he held very strong views. One of his eight books is titled ‘Sambhal Ke Rahna Ghar Me Chhupe Hue Gaddaro Se (Beware of the traitors hiding within)’.
Before becoming a minister, he used to be a frequent speaker at school and college functions in which he used to talk about his idea of India. A great admirer of Swami Vivekanand, Shivaji and Chandrashekhar Azad, he used to invoke them repeatedly in his speeches and writings.