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

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”