Free Press Journal

‘No memorial, award; plant a tree if you want to remember me’


Bhopal/New Delhi : Union minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (independent charge) Anil Madhav Dave, 60, passed away in sleep at his official residence in New Delhi Thursday morning. Dave mentioned in his will that his last rites should be performed at the ghat of River Narmada at Bandrabhan, where he used to organise Nadi Mahotsav.

In a document titled “My Wish and my Will” dated 23 July, 2012, he expressed the wish that after his death, no memorial should be constructed to commemorate him, no award or contest of any kind should be instituted and his statue should not be installed. He said that he should be cremated with Vedic rites.

Dave had written that those who want to remember him should plant trees and look after them till they grow up. They can also do whatever they can for the preservation of rivers, lakes and ponds; but his name should not be associated with any such endeavour. At the end, he sought apologies for any mistakes he might have committed.

The news of his shocking and sudden death spread like a wildfire in capital’s political and environment circles, as also in Madhya Pradesh. A number of VVIPs and other dignitaries made a beeline to his residence to pay their homage.

Dave’s body, accompanied by Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Thaverchand Gehlot and BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, was flown in a special plane to Bhopal for performing his last rites at Bandra Bhan in Hoshangabad district on the banks of river Narmada. He had willed to be cremated at the spot where he had been organising international river festival. Dave was an RSS ideologue and has written a number of books, including on Shivaji Maharaj, and on Narmada river. He was a bachelor.

As mark of respect to the departed Union minister, national flags will fly at half-mast on all government buildings in Delhi and in state capitals on Thursday and Friday. Union Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has been given the additional charge of MOEFCC.

Last night after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi late in the evening, he took simple dinner with a cabinet minister from MP at his Safdarjung Road official residence and went to sleep at his usual time. When he did not wake up this morning, his domestic help, along with his brother’s wife Rekha Dave, went to his room and found him motion less. He was rushed to the AIIMS around 8 am where he was declared brough-dead, family sources told FPJ.

His body was brought home after official and medial formalities around 1230 pm when already a large number of ministers and BJP leaders were waiting at his home.

Flower wreaths were offered on behalf of the President Pranab Mukherjee and MP chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.

Born on July 6, 1956, in Ujjain district of Madhya Pradesh, Dave was a three-time member of the Rajya Sabha.

Dave joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the ideological mentor of the Bharatiya Janata Party – as a child and later volunteered to be its ‘pracharak’ (full-timer) after completing his studies.

A postgraduate in commerce, he was involved in the JP movement in the 1970s. Dave took to flying early on as a National Cadet Corps air wing cadet.

He was deputed to the BJP before the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections in 2003, whereafter he emerged as a key strategist in the party’s victories in subsequent assembly polls in 2008 and 2013 as also the party’s performance in the Lok Sabha polls from the state.

He was founder of ‘Narmada Samagra’, which works for the conservation of the river and its catchment area.

Dave was also the founder of the Jan Abhiyan Parishad, an umbrella organisation to interlink and empower self-help groups and non-governmental organisations. He also worked tirelessly towards promoting bio-toilets in schools in Madhya Pradesh.

An author of several books, he was Vice President of the 10th World Hindi Conference in Bhopal organised by the External Affairs Ministry.

Dave was first elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2009, and re-elected in 2010 and 2016.

He was inducted as Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forest and Climate Change in July last year after Prakash Javadekar was elevated as the Human Resource Development Minister.

PM says it’s a personal loss

Prime Minister who arrived at Dave’s residence around 3 pm stayed there for close to 20 minutes and left after seeing off the Vice President. Modi was inside the room along with Vice President, Sumitra Mahajan and Thambi Durai where his body was kept in a glass box. Earlier, he had tweeted that he was absolutely shocked by the sudden demise of his friend and a very respected colleague…I was with Anil Madav Dave ji till late last evening , discussing key policy issues. This demise is a personal loss. Dave ji would be remembered as a devoted public servant. He was tremendously passionate towards conserving the environment”.