Rarely does anyone come across an unassumingly, affable government officer who shatters that archetypical image that one normally has about typical government employees in one’s mind. The sudden, tragic and untimely demise of Joint Chief Electoral Officer (Jt CEO) for Maharashtra, Anil N Valvi has left everyone who knew him personally and professionally, visibly shaken and at loss for words to express their grief and sorrow.
It is an irreparable loss for all those who knew Anil Valvi personally.
Anil Valvi, the unassuming, soft-spoken Joint CEO in the Election Branch of General Administration Department (GAD), Government of Maharashtra broke that archetypical image of a typical government employee.
He was barely 53 years old when fate, destiny call what you may, snatched this noble soul while he was on a vacation in his native village in tribal district of Nandurbar on Monday evening. Valvi had suffered a severe cardiac arrest. He is survived by his mother, wife and two daughters.
Valvi rose from a quite humble background and did his initial schooling in the tribal hamlet of Dhanora in Nandurbar district. After completing his college education, he joined the services of Government of Maharashtra in 1993.
He was absorbed in the Election Branch of the GAD where he for the last 27 years almost single handedly supervised, managed and conducted all elections, be it – Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Legislative Assembly, Legislative Council and elections to the office of the President of India.
The entire staff and his colleagues at his department are inconsolable, for according to his junior staff Prashant Ghorpade, he had just left his desk in Mantralaya for a brief vacation, but not before setting in motion the process for conducting the ensuing elections to the office of the President of India due in July 2022.
For a young rookie journalist like this one in 1992, Valvi was like a mentor, guide and a virtual encyclopaedia on elections, how elections are conducted, the election laws, number and data crunching, how to read and analyse election data. To those who were willing to listen he had interesting poll related anecdotes to share.
It was because of his guidance that we journalists were able to understand how the single transferable vote gets transferred in a preferential voting in Legislative Council and Rajya Sabha elections and how the value of each vote is calculated and gets reduced with each transfer.
Hence, we were able to understand the beauty and underlying political and mathematical calculations that went in closely fought landmark Legislative Council elections of Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sudhakar Gangane and the famous Rajya Sabha elections of R D Pradhan, which all of the three lost by a whiskers margin.
Much of the knowledge and insights into elections that I as a journalist gained was because Valvi was willing to share all that he could. It was he who taught many journalists like me the fine art and technique of calculating quota of votes required for candidates to win in the elections to the Elected by MLAs constituencies in the Legislative Council and to an extent in the Rajya Sabha, Vice Presidential and Presidential elections.
In later years while covering elections at the national level, I realised how privileged we journalists from Maharashtra were when it came to getting election related information like – constituency wise – number of voters, contesting candidates, voting percentages, election results.
On one occasion in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections as this reporter tried to get in touch with the UP state Election Branch of the ECI for the above information. I was promptly told to get in touch with the local constituency level election officer, which was a next to impossible thing to achieve.
That’s when I realised the true value and importance of what Valvi and his dedicated team was doing for us journalists in Maharashtra. It was a thankless job which they could have easily ignored just like their counterparts in UP did.
Such was his mastery in management of elections, his deputy Shubha Borkar once shared this anecdote. After every Lok Sabha election all the election officers from the respective state’s election branch had to be present at the Nirvachan Sadan, the headquarters of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in New Delhi to submit all the result sheets, data in the proper required format.
The ECI staff in New Delhi would give first preference to team from Maharashtra as all the required documents and data were always in proper format, accurate and complete, said Shubha Borkar. In fact, it was the meticulous planning and execution that Valvi and his team ensured Maharashtra earned accolades at the national level.
Such was his command over conduct of elections that the ECI authorities in New Delhi refused to let the Government of Maharashtra transfer him to any other posting in any other department. Because the ECI Delhi was comfortable and knew he was the one who could manage all the complexities of any state or national elections. For them Valvi was indispensable.
So, all that the Government of Maharashtra could do was to keep on reposting him in the same department, elevating his rank by giving him promotions which he was rather modest in accepting.
Chief Electoral Officer of Maharashtra, Shrikant Deshpande described the loss of Valvi as an irreparable loss for the election machinery in Maharashtra. He was a living tome of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Maharashtra, added Deshpande while offering his condolences.
His former boss, now Chief Election Commissioner of Maharashtra State Election Commission (SECM), U P S Madan expressed shock at the unexpected departure of Anil Valvi, describing him as “a gem of a person”.
Former Chief Secretary and another former boss of Valvi, Debashish Chakraborty while offering his condolences, termed Valvi as a very dedicated and hard-working officer. “I have wonderful memories of the time he worked in the GAD Election Branch with me from 2007 to 2012”, remarked Chakraborty.
Another of his former bosses at the Election Branch, Nitin Gadre too termed Valvi as a “very sincere officer and a good human being.”
His former colleague at the Election Branch, S Krishnamurthy in his condolence message remarked that he too had lost a very dear friend. Another of Valvi’s former bosses, Shekhar Channe too expressed grief at the sudden passing away of Anil Valvi, terming it as shocking news.
The sudden passing away of Anil Valvi is surely a void that will be hard to fill at the GAD Election Branch for years to come. Adios my dear friend, you will be missed for eternity.