Veteran socialist Mrunal Gore, known for her dauntless activism on issues of price rise, water rights and women’s empowerment, passed away after a cardiac arrest on Tuesday in Vasai, Thane district. She was 84 years old.
“For the past 10 days she was at my house,” said Ms. Gore’s daughter Anjali Vartak.
“She had suffered a bronchitis attack and was on a ventilator. She was feeling weak. She had run a fever too. Today she was feeling breathless and later died of a cardiac arrest,” Ms. Vartak told The Hindu on the phone.
Ms. Gore also had low blood pressure and diabetes.
“She dedicated her life to public service. Her character was exemplary and she worked with gumption. Such was her dedication, that when she was offered the Health Ministry by [former Prime Minister] Morarji Desai, but she refused saying she wanted to work among the people. She had a very generous nature and led a very simple life. She would open her purse strings and help people in need,” said Ms. Gore’s long-time colleague Madhu Adilkar.
Ms. Gore earned the sobriquet ‘Paniwali Bai’ for her efforts to bring drinking water supply to Goregaon, a Mumbai suburb, where she resided.
“She was known to bring tremendous pressure on the government with her ‘rolling pin’ morchas. She used the technique of gheroing ministers and administrators. She did not resort violence or vilification. She persevered in a determined fashion, without bribing anyone. She worked systematically. That’s why she commanded respect and awe among people in the government,” Mr. Adilkar said.
He also recalled how Ms. Gore managed to evade arrest during the Indian Railways’ strike called by George Fernandes in 1974.
Nationalist Congress Party corporator Vidya Chavan recalled a meeting with Ms. Gore when party chief Sharad Pawar called on her four months ago. “She recalled the good days of her party Janata Dal (Secular) when in power at the Centre. Mr. Pawar recalled her work as Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly when he was the Chief Minister. He told in those days there was no mudslinging and use of unparliamentarily language as we see today.”
“I have attended Ms. Gore’s andolan meetings against price rise in the late 80s. She would conduct meetings every Wednesday. Along with her contemporaries Ahilyabai Rangnekar and Pramila Dadavate, she led many an andolan. Ms. Gore’s name inspired awe even among politicians of the highest rank. Of late she had difficulty in walking. Her demise is a deep shock,” Ms. Chavan said.
Fellow activist Gopal Dukhande said he “deeply regretted” Ms. Gore. “She was part of a socialist wave, but also part of the failure of the socialist movement. She left no legacy behind.”
Ms. Gore’s body will be brought to the Keshav Gore Smarak Trust, founded in Ms. Gore’s husband’s name, in Goregaon on Wednesday morning.
Leaders from across the political spectrum mourned Ms. Gore’s demise. “A voice that solved people’s problems through activism has been silenced today. The people have lost a visionary leader,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said.
Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan called Ms. Gore “greatest woman social workers.” “Ms. Gore remained in the forefront of various agitations for almost four decades and secured justice for women and the urban poor. All her life, she practiced the values of Gandhianism to the core.”
“A brave lady”
Veteran activist N. D. Patil said, “Mrunal Gore’s death has left a terrible void within Maharashtra’s social and political sphere. As a promising young medical college student, she leapt into the freedom struggle with scarcely a thought for the consequences. Since then she never looked back as she fought in the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement and the Goa Liberation Movement.”
Describing her as an exceptionally brave lady, Mr. Patil said that Ms. Gore’s name had become a byword in the state for any fight against oppression and injustice.
“Her work cut across political and social lines while transcending gender barriers,” Mr. Patil said recollecting Ms. Gore’s vibrant leadership in her battles to secure civil and political rights for the disenfranchised.
Prakash Reddy, Communist Party of India said, “Mrunaltai was a great fighter. Her name was synonymous with any fight against injustice, be they political struggles, civic amenities, women’s rights or housing issues. Despite being a politician, she had this great capability to choose issues which involved the masses.”
Subhash Desai of the Shiv Sena said, “She was an example who should be studied by politicians today. She lived by a set of high principles that are being obliterated by the leaders of the day. Even though the Shiv Sena and the Communist parties had striking differences, Mrunaltai transcended all party and social barriers to set a towering example that will be hard to emulate by present generation leaders.”