Former banker and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Meera Sanyal passed away Friday after battling cancer for a brief period, AAP’s official twitter handle tweeted. She was 57. Sanyal, who earlier served as the chief of Royal Bank of Scotland, resigned from her position to join AAP in 2013.
She also contested in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai South constituency. Sanyal, who was a noted figure in the economic circles, was awarded as Philanthropist of the Year by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) in 2011.
As an AAP activist, Sanyal was instrumental in the petition that challenged Mumbai Port Trust’s (MbPT) handling of coal imports in Mumbai’s Haji Bunder port area. She pointed out that the area spread across 25 acres was facing environmental and health threats due to negligence on the part of MbPT.
— Sanjay Singh AAP (@SanjayAzadSln) January 11, 2019
AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal stated that he was extremely saddened by Sanyal’s demise. Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia tweeted that ‘the country has lost a sharp economic brain and a gentle soul. May she rest in peace!” Sanyal’s Congress opponent in the election of 2014, Milind Deora, told The Indian Express that he is in Dubai and has just heard of her passing away. “I wish to convey my condolences to her family,” the former union minister told The Indian Express
I am deeply saddened to hear about
the passing away of Meera Sanyal.
The country has lost a sharp economic brain and a gentle soul. May she rest in peace!
You will forever remain in our hearts.
— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) January 11, 2019
Sanyal also authored a book entitled ‘The Big Reverse: How Demonetization Knocked India Out’. She reportedly left various Whatsapp groups of AAP members last month, saying she wanted a ‘detox’ from social media.
The AAP leader entered the electoral fray around the time when civic activism in Mumbai was peaking. “She showed the way for clean politics when she entered the contest as an independent in 2004. Mumbai has lost one of her greatest daughters. I have lost a mentor. She elevated the discourse on a range of subjects she got involved in,” said Ruben Mascarenhas, national joint secretary of AAP.
Vice Admiral (retd), president of APLI Mumbai, a non-governmental organisation, hailed Sanyal’s ability to bring together people from diverse walks of life with the objective of formulating public policies. “She had charisma to attract the young talent, old people and others to formulate the public policies,” said Rao.
Meera Sanyal is no more. Brave person who fought cancer till the end. Wrote a brilliant book on demonetisation. Banker and political activist. Her spirit will live on forever. She did not go gently into the good night. She raged against the dying of the light. Goodbye Meera.
— ParanjoyGuhaThakurta (@paranjoygt) January 11, 2019
When Sanyal entered the electoral fray in 2009 as an independent candidate, there was intense pressure on her to withdraw after then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had commented on the independent candidates being spoilers.
She had remarked out on the behalf of independent candidates across the country, reiterating her right as a proud Indian to participate in the democratic process. Sanyal had said she had chosen to contest the election as she felt established political parties had not been able to solve the country’s and Mumbai’s problems.
Political scientist and AAP leader Kishore Mandhyan remembered Sanyal as being gifted with a humane intelligence that enabled her to engage with compassion and empathy. Talking to The Indian Express hours after attending the funeral, he said, “Both, in her work as a professional banker and her work in AAP, the underdog was central — pressing entrepreneurship for rural women or fighting for egalitarian urban renewal in the Mumbai Portlands.
“For the Aam Aadmi Party, she was an eloquent and thoughtful voice on economic policy. And as its candidate from Mumbai South — India’s foremost parliamentary constituency — in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, she brought dignity, common sense and grace to AAP’s pioneering foray into politics. Most of all, in a cynical India, Meera walked the talk on the need move from offices to the street and project a liberal politics to stay forces of a corrupt and compromised political class,” he added.