Skip to main content

Chunibhai Vaidya, veteran Sarvodaya leader and a known critic of Modi-style governance, passes away

By Our Representative
Gujarat’s most well-known Gandhian Chunibhai Vaidya passed away on Friday at his residence in Gandhi Ashram premises in Ahmedabad. Born on September 2, 1918 in a small village in Patan district of North Gujarat, Sander, he lived in Gandhi Ashram during the later days of his life. A freedom fighter and variously described as an "old-style" Sarvodaya activist, who participated in Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan movement asking landlords to “selflessly” give away land to the tiller, Vaidya was one of the foremost supporters of Jay Prakash Narayan’s total revolution and was opposed the Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi government.
During the Emergency (1975-77), Vaidya went to the Gujarat High Court challenging the government’s decision to seal the office of Bhoomiputra journal, which he edited from Vadodara. Though he won the legal battle, he was detained for seven months for taking part in “anti-government” activities. Vaidya is known among Gujarat activists as synonymous for his concept of “resistance for justice” while working for social development.
Vaidya formed Gujarat Lok Samiti, a voluntary organization, in 1980, and among his first successful movements was to force the Rajasthan government to close down liquor shops across Gujarat’s border in Rajasthan at Ratanpur. Other mobilisations he launched included cancelling MLAs’ pension law and pressing the administration to provide drinking water to 350 villages of North Gujarat. His “constructive activities” included insistence on desilting canals. He was instrumental in constructing underground check dams in order to irrigate more than 8,000 acres.
Chunibhai Vaidya leading protest march against Nirma cement plant
While Vaidya supported the Narmada dam, a mega project, and called Narmada Bachao Andolan’s anti-dam campaign as “destructive” and “agitative”, he agitated against the multinational corporation Cargill's proposed project in Gujarat and supported fishermen’s opposition to a mega port project at Umbergaon in South Gujarat. Two years ago, the Gujarat government chose a nearby site, Nargol, to implement the port project, with a consortium of Cargo Motors Limited and Israel Ports Company (IPC) being awarded the Rs 4,000 crore project.
An active campaigner to support Kutch earthquake victims of 2001, more recently, despite his old age, Vaidya supported farmers’ organizations – such as the Jameen Adhikar Andolan Gujarat (JAAG) and Gujarat Khedut Samaj – opposing dozen-odd special investment regions (SIRs) being formed across Gujarat. He also opposed "indiscriminate transfer" of grazing land to industries in the name of development. He lent his support to the movement against the Nirma Cement Plant proposed in an alleged wetland in Mahua region of Bhavnagar district of Saurashtra, leading a march against the industrial project from Mahua to Gandhinagar. Right now, the plant awaits nod from the National Green Tribunal nod.
One of the known opponents of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vaidya asked has Modi, on several occasions, to come clean on 2002 riots. Commenting on Modi’s September 2011 “sadbhavna” fast, he said, "Modi's fast is an example of the popular Hindi proverb, the cat goes for pilgrimage after killing 100 mice.” He termed Modi’s widely-publicized sadbhavna fast as “a clear example of this adage”, adding, “When Mahatma Gandhi used to sit on a hunger strike, his heart was clean, conscience clear and his life was based on principles of truth.”
Chunibhai Vaidya interacting with a farmer
On another occasion, the veteran Gandhian wrote to Anna Hazare asking the latter to take back his remarks on “exemplary” rural development under Modi. Calling Hazere’s claim “false”, he said, "Your statement regarding development in rural area requires a thorough correction. The development crazy Modi has done a great harm to the rural area. Modi is responsible for the desertion of the villages by more than 10 per cent of the population which includes mainly youth. As for the corruption problem, crores of square meters of land have been allotted to the industries at throwaway prices.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
A rare leader in these times, having fought against the whole range -- from Indira to Modi. Thanks for such an early posting.

TRENDING

US research: 40% of India's casteist Facebook posts are anti-reservation, anti-Dalit

By Rajiv Shah
A recent American civil society research has found that 40% of India's casteist posts on Facebook (FB) have anti-reservation slant. Asserting that the reservation policy in India is similar to affirmative action in the United States, the research study, titled "Facebook India: Towards The Tipping Point of Violence Caste and Religious Hate Speech", says, this type of hate content on FB is mainly directed against Dalits and Adivasis.

Sanjiv Bhatt paying price for deposing on Modi role in Gujarat riots: Wife Shweta

Counterview Desk
Following the Jamnagar sessions court ordering life imprisonment to former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for his alleged involvement in three decades old custodial death case, his wife Shweta Bhatt has said that he has been sentenced for a “for a crime he did not commit”, even as criticizing the Indian Police Service (IPS) Association, Gujarat, for not standing up for him.

Senior advocates targeted because they took up cases against Amit Shah: Lawyers' NGO

Counterview Desk
The Lawyers Collective (LC), an NGO claiming to promote human rights issues, has expressed surprise at the latest move by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register an FIR against the Lawyers Collective (LC), its president Anand Grover and unknown office bearers for alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

How Gujarat govt imposed curbs on livestock export for 'fear' of losing BJP vote share

By RK Misra*
Insidious are the ways authorities function, preaching one thing, practicing quite another. Administrative muscle-flexing to suit political goals was on display when the BJP-led Vijay Rupani government in Gujarat banned the export of livestock days ahead of Eid. Even the Narendra Modi-led government expressed its intent to confirm it countrywide, but stopped short of doing so.

One of the least peaceful countries, India's global peace ranking deteriorates: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report has asserted that India's ranking in the Global Peace Index (GPI) is 141st among 163 countries, deteriorating by four ranks in a year. Ranking 163 countries by providing a score to each, the report, prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), headquartered in Sydney, Australia, has found India to be one of the least peaceful nations in the region.

Demand for Bharat Ratna to Dalai Lama as top RSS leader warns China of 'strong' action

Nava Thakuria*
Dharamshala: Indian supporters for a free Tibet have urged the Government of India to confer Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, on the Tibetan spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, for his “immense contributions” in creating goodwill for India in the last six decades. A declaration, adopted at the 6th All-India Tibet Support Groups’ Conference held on June 15 and 16 in Dharamshala township of Himachal Pradesh, said that the Nobel laureate continues to be a holy ambassador of Indian culture enriched with non-violence, compassion and religious harmony.

Sabarmati 'cleaned up' swimming pool style: Untreated effluents discharged in river

Counterview Desk
In a fresh letter to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, senior Gujarat environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) have taken strong objection to the recent clean-up drive of the about 11.3 km stretch of Sabarmati riverbed undertaken by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), terming it as “swimming pool type clean-up.” The river’s total length is 371 km.

Jharkhand mob lynching: Adivasis protest police 'inaction', FIR against victims

Counterview Desk
The Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (JJM), a civil rights network, on Monday sponsored a protest against the police action against the Adivasi victims of the lynching which took on April 10, 2019, in Jurmu village of Dumri block in Gumla district of Jharkhand. The incident led the death of Prakash Lakda, aged 50.

Gujarat govt 'considers' temples, charitable institutions as shops and establishment

By Pankti Jog*
The Gujarat state assembly recently passed a new law which would "govern" the working condition of shops and establishments. One of the most talked about provisions of the Act is, it allow shops and establishments across Gujarat to function 24 hours.

There is no 'separate' Kashmir story, as there is for Afghanistan, Nepal, Tibet, Palestine

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of South Asia. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. The name Kashmir derives from the Sanskrit Kashyapmeru. The Greeks knew it as Kaspeiria. Herodotus called it Kaspatyros.