The crusader who brought water to slums

Socialist leader Mrinal Gore, popularly known as ‘Paaniwali Bai’, died of problems related to old age yesterday in a hospital in Thane.

Wat-er victory: Owing to her catchy slogan ‘Paaniwali bai Delhi mein, Delhiwali bai paani mein’, Mrinal Gore won the 1977 general elections with the highest victory margin in Maharashtra. file pic

The 84-year-old — considered to be last of Maharashtra’s socialist pillars — came to be known as ‘Paaniwali Bai’ after she stormed inside the Mumbai civic headquarters and tore up papers, as municipal laws did not permit water connections to slums.

She contested the civic elections in 1961 for the first time and won a seat in the then Bombay Municipal Council. Gore took up the issue of water connections in slums in 1964 after 11 people were killed in water riots. Gore contested the 1977 Lok Sabha general elections, held after the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi revoked Emergency, on a Janata Party ticket.

Owing to her catchy slogan Paaniwali bai Delhi mein, Delhiwali bai paani mein, she won with the highest victory margin in Maharashtra.

As an MLA, Gore took up several issues and continued to fight for the downtrodden and poor, including the case of the farmers and Dalits.

However, when Gandhi bounced back in 1980, the tables were turned as Gore lost with a heavy margin. Gore, however, continued to serve in the state legislature and council for several terms.

Gore was also responsible for protests against the entry of Enron, the US Company, in the power sector.  

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