A rare, self-effacing public servant, Motilal Vora always put the nation and party above self-interest 

As the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, he visited his constituency every fortnight so that people didn’t have spend money and time to travel to the capital to see him, writes Yashwant Dhote

 Motilal Vora with Rajiv Gandhi  
Motilal Vora with Rajiv Gandhi
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Yashwant Dhote

Babu Ji will be missed the most by young politicians and journalists. For as Long as I can remember, he was called ‘Babu Ji’ by everyone who knew him. And Babu Ji was truly a father figure, a teacher, philosopher and guide rolled together. A walking school, if you like. Those who wanted to learn from him, received insights in abundance.

Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel was not exaggerating when he said that he had learnt public service and politics from Babu Ji. This writer knows of several fledgeling journalists who benefitted from his wisdom and advice. At least one of them now brings out his own newspaper. Starting his life as a journalist, journalism never quite left him. He was a voracious reader, liked good reporting and writing and seldom shied away from saying what did not meet his approval.

He was also stoical in his fortitude. We do not remember him getting flustered in a crisis. He would always seem cool and collected. The smile never left his lips or the twinkle in his eyes. Nor do we remember him raising his voice or showing ever any impatience

Way back in 1991 the AICC declared him as the Congress candidate for the Lok Sabha from Durg. But the sitting Congress MP ChandulalChandrakar, who had already filed his nomination, failed to withdraw. With barely one minute to go before time for withdrawal of nominations was to lapse at 3 pm, it was Babu Ji who withdrew. Asked what his next step would be, he nonchalantly replied that he would campaign for the victory of the party and Chandrakar. Congress won that election with a large victory margin.

He would always advise people to put the organization above the individual. In 1998 when the party asked him to contest from Rajnandgaon and not from his home turf of Durg, he complied without a word. He also won the election. This quality endeared him to his political opponents also. And every time he would visit Raipur to file his nomination for the Rajya Sabha, he would invariably drop in at the chamber of the then BJP chief minister Dr Raman Singh for a ritual cup of tea. This wide acceptability was the reason why the Governor of Madhya Pradesh, BJP chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan and several other BJP leaders turned up at his funeral in Durg this week.

His sense of propriety was impeccable. When he was Governor of Uttar Pradesh in Lucknow, he would visit home for Diwali. In 1993 there was President’s Rule in UP and Diwali fell in the middle of the campaign for the assembly election in MP. His son Arun Vora was the Congress candidate from Durg assembly seat. This was also the time when Himachal Pradesh Governor Gulsher Ahmed, who hailed from Satna, also visited home for Diwali.

The presence of the two Governors in the state during the assembly election with their sons contesting, prompted BJP to complain to the Election Commission. The Returning Officer in Satna reported to the EC that HP Governor was seen moving in the constituency. But in Durg, Motila Vora remained confined to his house and barring family members, did not meet anyone. Ahmed had to relinquish his office but the EC gave a clean chit to Vora Ji.

As chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, recalled people after his demise, he would visit his constituency every fortnight so that people do not have to travel to the state capital to see him. For people in distress, he would say, both time and money were too precious to be wasted in attempts to see the chief minister.

R.I.P. Babu Ji

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