Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Dewas Tukoji Rao Puar who passed away on Friday in Indore had successfully made the transition from prince to politician.
Born in 1963, Puar was the maharaja of the erstwhile princely state of Dewas, hailing from the senior line. His father too had been a legislator but it was Tukoji Rao Puar who provided a firm footing to his family in politics.
Immensely popular in his assembly constituency, Puar began his career in politics with the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) in the mid 1980s, groomed by BJP stalwart Sunderlal Patwa.
He contested his first assembly election in 1990 and won every election he contested subsequently till his death, with spectacular margins. He was elected MLA six times.
No stranger to controversy, he often remained in news for wrong reasons. Whether it was a comment on a woman at an awards function, or driving a bus with his cabinet colleagues and then ramming it into a gate at the chief minister’s house or creating a scene at a toll collection point.
It was perhaps his immense popularity in the constituencies around Dewas or his affable nature when he met people personally, the BJP- a party that loves to highlight almost saintly and simple living, turned a blind eye to his affinity towards drink.
Tukoji Rao Puar was inducted in the state cabinet for two terms serving as minister for higher education, technical education and later tourism, sports and youth welfare.
The chief minister, who treated him with kid gloves, however, did not appoint him the minister when the party returned to power in 2013, citing health grounds.
Tukoji Rao Puar had a liver surgery at Singapore which was said to have been successful but the recovery was never complete.
Besides politics, Tukoji Rao Puar was also the president of the Board of Governors of the Daly college, a prestigious public school at Indore.
“Tukoji Rao was a good sportsman in school, especially in rifle shooting and cricket. He was also a sensitive person. It was during his president ship of the board of governors, that Daly college made a turnaround and is doing very well as a school,” said Naim ur Rahim Khan, his classmate from Daly college.
Unlike many BJP politicians who have practised majority politics, especially in the communally charged Malwa region, Puar was also immensely popular with the Muslim community in Dewas.
The community has substantial numbers in the town area and it always stood by their former maharaja in elections. His death comes at an unfortunate time for his family too. His son Vikram Sinh Puar who was being groomed by him as his political successor was accused of murder in a case recently.