City’s original political street fighter passes away

Mrinal Gore, veteran Socialist leader and former leader of opposition of the Maharashtra Assembly, passed away on Tuesday at Vasai. She was 84.

mumbai Updated: Jul 18, 2012 00:24 IST
Zeeshan Shaikh
Zeeshan Shaikh
Hindustan Times

Mrinal Gore, veteran Socialist leader and former leader of opposition of the Maharashtra Assembly, passed away on Tuesday at Vasai. She was 84.

In a political career spanning close to half a century, Gore won widespread adulation and sobriquets such as ‘Paaniwali bai’ for taking up women’s issues and striving to provide water connections to the poor. These came with brickbats from the state’s top political leaders -- among them Sharad Pawar, Bal Thackeray and AR Antulay -- who had to face stringent criticism from Gore over issues of governance and corruption.

Gore, who fought breast cancer in the 80s and had her toes amputated due to diabetes, had a bronchitis attack a week ago and was admitted to a Vasai hospital, where she passed away on Tuesday. “We had moved her to hospital. She subsequently had a cardiac arrest and passed away,” Gore’s daughter Anjali Vartak said.

With the Seva Dal
Gore, the daughter of a physics professor, gave up a lucrative medical career when she dropped out of her first- year MBBS course to join the Rashtriya Seva Dal in 1947. Later, disillusioned by the Congress, Gore joined the socialist movement and helped organise women in the Goregaon area, which in the 1950s was seen as a rural outpost of Mumbai.

Apart from working for the upliftment and emancipation of women, Gore was also active during the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. Her first stint in electoral politics was in 1961 when she was elected to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Her work during this tenure to get water pipelines for the poor earned her the sobriquet of ‘paaniwali bai’ and helped showcase her talent for organising the masses, particularly women.

Assembly stint
Gore was elected in 1972 to the Maharashtra Assembly. Her stint there was famous for the mass protests she organised against the rising cost of foodgrains in the state.

Gore was subsequently jailed during the Emergency.

Her rising popularity after the Emergency meant that she was elected as an MP from Mumbai North in 1977 on a Bhartiya Lok Dal ticket. She lost the Lok Sabha elections in 1980 but was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1985 and made leader of opposition.

During this stint, Gore undertook a two-pronged battle against the policies of the Congress and the rising communalism exhibited by the BJP and Shiv Sena.

Gore took on two of the state’s most well-known political personalities at the same time. In the Assembly, she attacked Sharad Pawar over the ‘de-reservation scam’ in which more than 250 plots in Mumbai which had been reserved for schools were de-reserved and given to private entities. She also severely criticised Thackeray’s Shiv Sena for its communalism. Her declining electoral fortunes, however, reflected the decline of the Socialist parties, whose place was taken up by the right-wing outfits.

After her diagnosis with breast cancer, she took a step back from politics but was still active in taking up public issues.

First Published: Jul 17, 2012 19:41 IST