Obituary – Vora Oozed Warmth, Was Accessible To All

An accessible leader who oozed warmth, Motilal Vora was a committed Congressman who enjoyed the trust of party leadership and served All India Congress Committee as an office-bearer for long years.

A former Chief Minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh and a former Governor of Uttar Pradesh during a tumultuous period of the state’s politics, Motilal Vora also served as a union minister in his political innings spanning almost five decades.

It was a reflection of party leadership’s faith in him that Vora served as party treasurer for nearly 18 years.

It is a coincidence that Vora took over from party leader Ahmed Patel as party treasurer in 2000 and the latter replaced him on the post in 2018. Both the leaders, who handled crucial posts in the Congress for several years, have passed away within one month of each other. After he was replaced as treasurer, Vora was appointed general secretary (administration) by the party leadership but was not given any assignment in the latest reshuffle due to his age.

Vora, 92, passed away a day after his birthday. The nonagenarian was a four-time member of Rajya Sabha and had friends across the parties who admired him for his geniality and warmth. Vora began his political career as a member of Municipal Committee, Durg, from 1968-72. He was first elected as MLA to Madhya Pradesh assembly in 1972 and was a minister in the Arjun Singh cabinet. He also served as Madhya Pradesh Congress chief and became the state Chief Minister in 1985 when Arjun Singh was moved to Punjab as Governor.

Vora emerged as a compromise candidate as Arjun Singh apparently was not keen on Madhavrao Scindia replacing him. He resigned as Chief Minister in 1988 and was appointed Union Minister of Health, Family Welfare and Civil Aviation. He again served as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister from January 1989 to November 1989.

Motilal Vora was appointed Governor of Uttar Pradesh when PV Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister and served the state in the role from May 1993 to May 1996.

Mayawati became chief minister for the first time when Vora was the Uttar Pradesh Governor. The P V Narasimha Rao government acted on Motilal Vora’s recommendation and Mulayam Singh Yadav was removed following the “guest house incident”.

A former journalist, Motilal Vora was very accessible to media persons but was it was difficult to get information out of him. He had an old-world charm about him, was unfailingly courteous and was always willing to order “chai” over “gupshup” which sometimes included his anecdotes. He served on several AICC committees including the disciplinary committee.

Motilal Vora hailed from Chhattisgarh and though he had apparent political ambitions in the state, it remained mostly under BJP rule since its creation in 2000 after the first Congress government formed under Ajit Jogi.

He was also chairman of Associated Journals and faced the legal cases being probed by Enforcement Directorate and other agencies.

Motilal Vora was regular in attending his office at AICC even as most office bearers came occasionally or were present during only part of the day. As thousands of Congressmen made a beeline to party headquarters during ticket distribution, especially for assembly polls, he would find time to meet them individually to give them the satisfaction of being heard.

The Congress leader would take their representations but not make any commitment as granting ticket was not in his hands and there could be only one party candidate. But Motilal Vora knew the art of handling people and the value of finding time for a party worker, who had travelled long distances, to convey his mind.

Motilal Vora was born on December 20, 1928, in Nagaur in Rajasthan and was educated at Raipur in Chhattisgarh. He had tested positive for COVID-19 in October and was later discharged from hospital. He was again admitted to a hospital in Delhi a few days ago following illness.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other party leaders paid glowing tributes to Vora. Sonia Gandhi said Motilal Vora’s demise has left a huge void that would be difficult to fill and his life “is a shining example of public service” and unparalleled commitment to the Congress ideology.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said he attended every party meeting even at 92 and freely expressed his opinions. Rahul Gandhi said that he was a true congressman and a wonderful human being. (ANI)

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