Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave died of a cardiac arrest in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here on Thursday morning. For many, the news was broken by a series of heartfelt tweets by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I was with Anil Madhav Daveji till late last evening [Wednesday], discussing key policy issues. This demise is a personal loss,” Mr. Modi said.
Mr. Dave’s last day in office was spent meeting not just the Prime Minister but also activists who opposed the possible environmental release of transgenic mustard, and those were not the only loose ends that he tied up. Known to be ailing for some time, Mr. Dave had left explicit instructions for a simple cremation with Vedic rites on the banks of the Narmada at Bandrabhan in Madhya Pradesh, where he, through a non-governmental organiasation of his, Narmada Samagra, held an annual river festival. He has asked for no memorials, except perhaps the planting of saplings.
Mr. Dave, 60, was born at Barnagar village in Ujjain and went to school in Gujarat, before taking a Master’s degree in Commerce and Rural Development in Indore. A trained pilot, he once flew a Cessna along the banks of the Narmada for 18 hours. He rafted 1,312 km on the river in 19 days.
From social work to joining the RSS and the BJP was a short step for Mr. Dave, who was one of the main architects of the party’s victory in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls in 2003. After the elections, he was appointed adviser to the then Chief Minister, Uma Bharti. For the BJP, which sent him to the Rajya Sabha in 2009, he was the quintessential organisation and details man. The party’s nominee for tough parliamentary committees such as the Select Committee on the Prevention of Corruption Bill and the Coal Mines Bill, he was again nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh in 2015 and made Environment Minister in July 2016.
Though frequently unwell and skipping meetings over the past two months, he was actively at work for over a fortnight. He was admitted to hospital early on Thursday after complaining of uneasiness and died within an hour, an AIIMS press release said.
Mr. Dave was unmarried, and he leaves behind several books such as Shivaji & Suraaj , Creation to Cremation; rafting through a civilisation: a travelogue , and Beyond Copenhagen; Yes I Can, So Can We .
Union Minister for Science and Technology Harshvardhan has been given additional charge of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.