Anil Madhav Dave, whose selection as environment minister last July surprised many, died on Thursday morning. Dave, 60, had contracted pneumonia in January this year and had been unwell for the last few months. Dave was taken to AIIMS on Wednesday night after he complained of unease. The exact cause of his death was not immediately known. Earlier on Wednesday, he spent a long time in office and held detailed discussions with a group of activists who were protesting against the 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 Daveji till late last evening discussing key policy issues. This demise is a personal loss,” tweeted Modi.
Although he was a Gujarati, Dave, a bachelor, lived almost his entire life in Madhya Pradesh. He was a vegetarian and an avid yoga practioner. A Rajya Sabha MP since 2009, Dave was associated with a campaign for conservation of the Narmada river. Before being appointed as environment minister, Dave never held any official position besides being an MP. Though he was a student leader and was associated with various social causes, he entered active politics only in the early years of the previous decade. He was considered close to Uma Bharti, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and now Union water resources minister.
Dave used to espouse the causes of vegetarianism, organic and natural farming, healthy rivers and opposed big dams. Despite his genial personality and 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 was a frequent speaker at school and college functions in which he used to talk about his idea of India. An admirer of Swami Vivekanand, Shivaji and Chandrashekhar Azad, he used to invoke them repeatedly in his speeches and writings.