Leader of the masses
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 AT 08:18 PM (IST)
I joined Tilak High School in Karad as a standard XI student and soon I learnt that the then foreign affairs minister Y B Chavan was an alumnus of the school. Chavan often came to his home-town and I had the opportunity to watch him and hear his speeches from close quarters. Often, he wore his famous grin from ear to ear and mingled with party workers and others freely. These and several other incidents flashed before my mind when his birth centenary celebrations were launched recently.
As the chief minister of the Mumbai bi-lingual state and as the first chief minister of Maharashtra, Chavan was instrumental in shaping the destiny of the state to a great extent. He outlined his vision for a new Maharashtra when the state was carved out in 1960. He took many decisions having far-reaching impact on the cultural, social, political and economic sectors of the state. The policies he laid down were followed by his successors. Under his enlightened leadership, Maharashtra became possibly the most progressive state in the country. Three decades after his demise, he continues to be a role model for political leaders and thinkers of the state. Chavan had a flair for writing - as is noticed in his numerous writings, including the letters written to his wife, Venutai. I happened to read some pages from his first and the only volume of his incomplete autobiography, "Krishna Kath" and I regretted that he could not complete his memories. People would have got an insight into the personal life of this great personality and also into what went on in New Delhi, especially before and after the Emergency.
Chavan was a true leader of the masses. He had a direct rapport with political workers across Maharashtra. In his public career spanning five decades, he had nurtured close associations with people from different walks of life. He knew the pulse of the state, over which he never lost control, although he was in New Delhi for two decades. He knew innumerable rural leaders by name. He knew their families and even years after their last meeting, he could recognise the people and would inquire about their families - a feat few political leaders can match today. The rural folks were welcomed with open arms whenever they visited the residence of the ‘Saheb’ in New Delhi.
Chavan epitomised Maharashtra in New Delhi and belonged to the political genre of K Kamaraj and Devraj Urs. It's a pity that the tribe of leaders of such stature, values and concern for the people is becoming extinct in Maharashtra and also in the country.