NEW DELHI: Environment Minister Anil Dave, a longtime RSS member best known for crafting the BJP strategy to unseat Congress stalwart Digvijay Singh as Madhya Pradesh chief minister in 2003, died here on Thursday. He was 60.
The two-time Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh complained of uneasiness at his home on Thursday morning and was rushed to AIIMS where he passed away, according to official sources.
The news of Dave, a bachelor, was broken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet, who said he was with the minister until late last evening, discussing policy issues.
“Absolutely shocked by the sudden demise of my friend & a very respected colleague, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave ji. My condolences,” he said in the tweet. “The demise is a personal loss.”
A senior doctor at AIIMS said, “The minister (Dave) was brought to AIIMS, New Delhi at around 8.50 am. He was brought in a state of cardiac arrest. All measures were taken to resuscitate him.
“He was declared dead at around 9.45 am,” he said.
Sources said the body will be flown to Indore where the minister’s brother lives.
Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Thanwar Chand Gehlot, Harsh Vardhan and senior BJP leaders have reached AIIMS.
Dave was sworn in as minister with independent charge of environment, forest and climate change last year. He had been a member of the Rajya Sabha since 2009.
He had a longtime association with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and shot into prominence in 2003 when he crafted the election strategy, leading to the defeat of Chief Minister Digvijay Singh. President Pranab Mukherjee expressed shock at the sudden demise of the minister.
Modi said Dave will be remembered as a devoted public servant who was tremendously passionate towards conserving the environment.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was saddened to learn of the demise of the minister.
“Dave was very active and sensitive to issues pertaining to environment. His dedication to work was highly appreciated. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the members of Anil Dave’s family,” Singh said.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi too paid his tribute to the minister.
“Very sad to learn of the sudden demise of Union Min Anil Madhav Daveji. He worked tirelessly for Narmada conservation,” he tweeted.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also expressed grief over the demise of Dave.
BJP president Amit Shah said Dave’s contribution to Indian politics and environment conservation was incredible.
“Shocked and deeply pained by the sudden demise of our senior leader Anil Madhav Dave ji. Deepest condolences to his family & friends.
“His organisational skills and connect with grassroots karyakartas (workers) was unparallelled. He always met me with a warm smile on his face,” he said in a series of tweets.
Union Law and IT Minister Ravishankar Prasad remembered Dave as a “valued colleague and outstanding MP dedicated to cause of environment & sustainable development”.
BJP MP Anurag Thakur said Dave was “a devoted and passionate environmentalist and conservationist who gave his life to public service”.
MoS Home Kiren Rijiju called him the “perfect definition of a gentleman and good human being” and added that he will “forever miss his smiling character”.
Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan called him a “noble intellectual soul”.
MoS Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore called him “a prolific worker and a wonderful human being.”