Shiv Sena Leader Anant Tare: Tributes To A Peoples’ Political Leader And A Personal Friend!

Again, a shocker. Unbelievable news that came at the most unexpected moment. It has happened to us several times in the recent two years—persons quite close to us die and we come to know about them months later. This time the occasion was a nice gathering of a few senior citizens under their Senior Citizens Club in Thane, Mumbai. A member of the Shiv Sena who attended the event not as a senior citizen as he was much younger informed me to my casual inquiry about the famous Shiv Sena leader Anant Tare that he has passed away about a year back. I was taken aback and was too shocked to ask more questions. Instead, I came down to the nearby lane and telephoned Tare’s personal associate Sunil. And to my horror he confirmed the news that Anant Tare had indeed passed away on 22nd February 2021 at a private hospital in Thane. He was hospitalized for some illness in December and before the day he was to be discharged he had a brain stroke and later a hemorrhage. As the doctors prepared for a brain surgery, he was found to be COVID-19 positive. Afterward, he went into a coma for more than two months, and tragically passed away on that date without recovering.   


In my grief that clutched me suddenly I blamed Sunil for not informing us. He said that the times were too sadly hectic and that the news had been constantly flashed in the local news channels and the newspapers. Of course, that time newspapers were still not allowed in our Thane society, but we used to watch the local news channels quite regularly. How we missed such an important news, we don’t know. Perhaps it was the same divine wish that we should not know about it at a time when we were bogged down with personal issues, and then in March 2021 we left Mumbai for a few months, still not knowing the sad truth.


Anant Tare had been a prominent Shiv Sena leader and had been the Mayor of Thane Municipal Corporation three times in the nineties. In 2000 he was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Council, and after serving a full term as an MLC Tare worked on as a Deputy Leader of Shiv Sena for Thane and Palghar districts. Anant Tare belonged to the Mahadev Koli community, and all his life he worked tirelessly for the betterment of the Koli community, the oldest fishing community or rather the aboriginals, listed now as a Scheduled tribe, of Mumbai and Thane. The beaches in Mumbai are being called ‘Koliwadas’, because the Koli fisherfolks live in hidden hutments along the seashore. Anant Tare had been their beloved leader—a leader who worked at the grassroots and always for the people. He was also a very religious person worshipping the traditional Koli Goddess Ekvira Devi among other deities and was the president of the Ekvira Devi Temple Trust at Lonavla. His office cum residential campus in Thane-West is truly a place of integration with temples of Goddesses of Amba and Ekvira and a Pir Baba dargah (Sufi place of worship).  


I knew Anant Tare since 2006 when I was posted in Doordarshan News in Mumbai. We became friends at the very first meeting, without any motivation behind—like that of exchanging favors or following a ‘give and take’ policy. He had visited our office on many occasions, sometimes just for meeting us or at times coming as a guest in the news or the program shows. His associate Sunil had also been a regular visitor bringing stories of the activities/events of Tare Saheb whom he referred always as ‘Dada’, and we used to include some of the stories displaying the energetic spirit of the lively Kolis. Anant Tare had given me and my wife the unique opportunity of attending a Koli festival in Mumbai, and we were stunned by their lively culture, folk dances and a rich cuisine of the sea fish varieties—I could not even count the number of fish delicacies offered. He has also been inviting us to visit the famous Ekvira Temple in Lonavla, but unfortunately that did not materialize, and now he is no more.


Our friendship continued naturally after I left Doordarshan Mumbai and even after I retired from service of the Government of India. We have often been in touch and the kindhearted religious peoples’ leader always helped us as best as he could in times of our personal crisis. While living in Thane after my retirement we visited his office several times and had darshan of the temples and the dargah. He always adjusted his busy schedule to be present during our visits. On an invitation from Sunil in October 2020 to come to Tare Saheb’s Navaratri celebration we went there and to our surprise Anant Tare was present there personally, waiting for us and to felicitate us—myself and my wife Ragini. That was an unforgettable moment, and that day of the 25th of October 2020 turned out to be the last time we met him. Yes, at that time my wife had more plans of visiting Tare Saheb’s wonderful place.


We offer our tributes and homage, belated as for the reasons cited above, to a genuinely true leader and a true family friend. Our heartfelt condolences to his family of wife, a son and and a daughter along with all kin and associates. I always discussed politics of Maharashtra with him, but never went beyond that which he too understood very well. Our common subject of mutual respect had been the great Balasaheb Thackeray and all the Thackerays—Uddhav Thackeray (Chief Minister of Maharashtra since 2019 with a coalition government), his dynamic son cum minister Aaditya Thackeray, dissenting leader Raj Thackeray and all others in their families. Anant Tare started his career as a banker and soon joined politics, inspired by Balasaheb Thackeray. He was said to be among Balasaheb’s most trusted ones. In Anant Tare’s demise at an untimely 66, Maharashtra and the Shiv Sena have lost a great honest leader.


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