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Motilal Vora, the Gandhi family loyalist, ‘uncle’ figure & chronicler of Congress history

Vora, who died Monday aged 93, had been with the Congress since Indira Gandhi’s time. He was considered among the most 'consistent and loyal' party workers.

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New Delhi: Veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora passed away Monday, just a day after celebrating his 93rd birthday.

The former Madhya Pradesh CM had tested positive for Covid-19 in October, and was admitted to AIIMS New Delhi. He was released after showing signs of recovery, but was admitted to Fortis Escort hospital last week with a urinary infection, necessitating the use of a ventilator.

Vora’s body will be taken to Chhattisgarh where he will be cremated. There is no confirmation yet about the date of cremation, but speculation suggests it will take place Tuesday.


Also read: Ahmed Patel’s death is the biggest political event of 2020


Symbol of loyalty, dedication

Vora was one of the oldest members of the Congress, and continued to act as a confidant of — and loyalist to — party interim president Sonia Gandhi.

But despite his proximity to the high command, Vora was known to be an ‘uncle’ figure, friendly and congenial towards the younger leaders.

“He was the most avuncular man in the party, an uncle-like figure to everyone. He was always gracious and intelligent while interacting with members across generations,” said Karti Chidambaram, Congress MP.

“He was also a living chronicler of the party’s very significant past, a treasure trove of events and personalities relevant to the Congress’ history,” Karti, the son of former Union minister P. Chidambaram, added.

Indeed, Vora had seen the Congress through umpteen troubles and crises in the past. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra described him as a “symbol of loyalty, dedication to the Congress ideology, as well as that of patience”.

From Indira to Rahul

Born in 1927 in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district, Vora grew up to work as a journalist for several years before taking the plunge into politics at the age of 40.

Vora began his political career as a member of the Socialist Party in 1968. However, in 1972, he earned himself a Congress ticket from Madhya Pradesh, and was elected to the assembly.

In the subsequent decades, Vora wore many hats, switching between them rather effortlessly.

In 1985, Vora became the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh — a post he left three years later in 1988 to join the Rajiv Gandhi government as the Union Minister of Health, Family Welfare and Civil Aviation.

In 1993, he was appointed the governor of Uttar Pradesh, holding the role for three years. In 1998, Vora won the Lok Sabha election from MP’s Rajnandgaon (now in Chhattisgarh) constituency.

“His inning began with Indira ji as PM, and he continued to be a pillar to date, as Rahul Gandhi ji takes over. From Indira ji to Rajiv ji to Sonia ji and now Rahul ji, every leader of the party has shown their trust in him over the years,” said Pratap Bhanu Sharma, vice-president of the Madhya Pradesh Congress, who worked closely with Vora since the 1970s and considered him his guardian.

“He is easily one of the most honest and hardworking politicians I knew. He worked tirelessly no matter which responsibility was handed over to him,” Sharma said.


Also read: Rahul’s favourites have asphyxiating control over him, says Congress ex-spokesperson Sanjay Jha


‘Most loyal and consistent leader’

In July 2019, after Rahul Gandhi stepped down from the post of Congress president, it was widely speculated that Vora would take charge on an interim basis. But Vora soon dismissed all such reports, and Sonia Gandhi eventually stepped up to take the role.

Vora was a Rajya Sabha MP from Chhattisgarh until April this year, and also served as the Congress’ general secretary before the major organisational reshuffle by Sonia Gandhi in September. His son Arun Vora is an MLA from Durg in Chhattisgarh.

Fellow veteran Congress leader and former Karnataka CM Veerappa Moily described Vora as the “most consistent and loyal Congress leader”.

“He was one of the oldest living Congressmen. He was the most consistent and loyal Congress leader, and stood by the party during many crises. This is undoubtedly a big loss for the party,” Moily said.

Proximity to Ahmed Patel

Vora was said to be very close to late Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who passed away last month.

Vora had held the post of the party treasurer from 2000 to 2018, a role that Patel took over. The two held each other in high regard, despite a two-decade age difference.

After Patel passed away, Vora had shared an old photograph from their last meeting. “We have shared our devotion and dedication towards the Congress party over cups of tea, so many times,” Vora had written.


Also read: Ahmed Patel remained in background, let others take credit — Sonia Gandhi writes in obituary


 

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