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From Liquor Shop Worker to MP CM: Babulal Gaur’s Dream Run Comes to End With His Demise

During his tenure as Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Gaur earned public for his encroachment drives but secured another handsome win in the next assembly elections.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:August 21, 2019, 12:46 PM IST
From Liquor Shop Worker to MP CM: Babulal Gaur’s Dream Run Comes to End With His Demise
File photo of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Babulal Gaur. (Getty Images)

A politician par excellence who loved to wear his heart on his sleeves and inspired many with his dream run — of working in a liquor shop to becoming Madhya Pradesh chief minister — Babulal Gaur passed away at 89 in Bhopal on Wednesday.

Gaur was keeping ill due to old age related issues for a while.

Once a Congress bastion, Madhya Pradesh saw a robust politician in Gaur who remained invincible since 1974 when he first contested the assembly polls. He holds the record for 10 assembly wins.

His dream run started with him working as a liquor shop employee — kalari, as he himself used to call it — and completed with him becoming the chief minister of the Hindi heartland in 2004. Born in Pratapgarh’s Naugeer village on June 2, 1930 as Baburam Yadav, he was renamed as Baburam Gaur by his school teacher due to his excessive attention to studies.

Gaur also worked at a cloth mill during his youth. His father Ramprasad had won a dangal (wrestling competition) in his village and the Britishers offered him job in a liquor company in Bhopal.

People started calling him Babulal Gaur when he reached Madhya Pradesh at an early age and started working at a liquor shop. He then got in touch with RSS pracharaks who asked him to shun this “immoral trade” which Gaur agreed to. He returned to his village and began farming but could not sustain it and decided to return to Bhopal.

He then turned to social work in cooperation with the RSS volunteers.

The UP native then found a job with Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL) as a wage labourer and soon was engaged in trade union which helped his popularity grow by leaps and bounds.

After getting elected to MP assembly as an independent in 1974, Gaur won a Jan Sangh ticket in 1977. He first time became a minister in Sunderlal Patwa government 1990-1992 and served as the minister of Local Administration, Law and Legislative Affairs, Parliamentary Affairs, Public Relations, Urban Welfare, Housing (Urban) & Rehabilitation and Bhopal Gas Relief and Rehabilitation.

With his iron hand will on encroachments during this government, Gaur earned the reputation of ‘bulldozer’ minister. He would himself narrate how his bulldozer was so scary that people would remove their encroachments on their own once the heavy machine was kept in their view with ignition on.

Not only public, his partymen, too, bore the brunt of his bulldozer alike.

He also earned public ire over his approach against encroachments but defying public notion, he secured another handsome win in the next assembly elections.

The famed VIP road of Bhopal, which is often likened to Mumbai’s Marine Drive, was built during his tenure.

An important turn came into his life when the then chief minister Uma Bharti was made to resign by the party and Gaur was crowned as CM on Aug 23, 2004. He, however, was replaced by Shivraj Singh Chouhan the next year.

His relations with party organisation were strained when he was axed from the Shivraj cabinet in 2016 on age grounds.

Octogenarian Gaur last year had shown his might when the party almost decided not to field him and his daughter-in-law from Gonvindpura seat in assembly polls. He took on the state unit against the verdict and finally the party high command agreed to field Krishna Gaur, his daughter-in-law and the stalemate ended.

A maverick, Gaur never shied away from controversies and mostly remained in news for his controversial takes on issues. Gaur had spent 19 years in jail during Emergency and during a chat with News18 a few years ago, had candidly said, “We did not face any problem in jail and Indira-ji (Gandhi; former Prime Minister) took care of our requirements really well.”

Gaur had also taken part in freedom movement of Goa.

As an MLA, he also gave a tough time to the Shivraj government inside Assembly through his stinging queries on public issues.

He was an avid bird lover and had all sorts of exotic and local birds at his government bungalow.

Many agree that a generation has come to a grinding halt in Madhya Pradesh politics with the demise of Babulal Gaur who was popular among his partymen and adversaries alike and profoundly loved the Bhopal city.

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