Environment Minister Anil Dave, a long-time Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) member best known for crafting the BJP strategy to unseat Congress stalwart Digvijay Singh as Madhya Pradesh chief minister in 2003, died here today. He was 60.

The two-time Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh complained of uneasiness at his home this morning and was rushed to AIIMS where he passed away, according to official sources.

The news of Dave, a bachelor, was broken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet, who said he was with the minister until late last evening, discussing policy issues. “Absolutely shocked by the sudden demise of my friend & a very respected colleague, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave ji. My condolences,” he said in the tweet. “The demise is a personal loss.”

Dave was sworn in as minister with independent charge of environment, forest and climate change last year. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha since 2009.

Dave had a long-time association with the RSS and shot into prominence in 2003 when he crafted the election strategy, leading to the defeat of Chief Minister Digvijay Singh.

Condolences pour in

President Pranab Mukherjee expressed shock at the sudden demise of the minister.

Modi said Dave will be remembered as a devoted public servant who was tremendously passionate towards conserving the environment..

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was saddened to learn of the demise of the minister. “Dave was very active and sensitive to issues pertaining to environment. His dedication to work was highly appreciated. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the members of Anil Dave’s family,” Singh said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also expressed grief over the demise of Dave.

BJP president Amit Shah said Dave’s contribution to Indian politics and environment conservation was incredible. “Shocked and deeply pained by the sudden demise of our senior leader Anil Madhav Dave ji. Deepest condolences to his family & friends. “His organisational skills and connect with grassroots karyakartas (workers) was unparallelled. He always met me with a warm smile on his face,” he said in a series of tweets.

Union Law and IT Minister Ravishankar Prasad remembered Dave as a “valued colleague and outstanding MP dedicated to cause of environment & sustainable development“.

BJP MP Anurag Thakur said Dave was “a devoted and passionate environmentalist and conservationst who gave his life to public service“.

MoS Home Kiren Rijiju called him the “perfect definition of a gentleman and good human being” and added that he will “forever miss his smiling character“.

Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan called him a “noble intellectual soul“.

MoS Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore called him a “a prolific worker and a wonderful human being."

Congress vice President Rahul Gandhi too paid his tribute to the minister. “V.sad to learn of the sudden demise of Union Min Anil Madhav Daveji. He worked tirelessly for Narmada conservation,” he tweeted.

Tricolour to fly at half-mast

The national flag will fly half-mast on all government buildings in Delhi and all state capitals as mark of respect to Anil Dave, who passed way this morning.

“The government today announced with profound sorrow the death of Anil Madhav Dave. As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, the Centre has decided that the national flag will fly half-mast today in Delhi and all state and Union Territories capitals on all the buildings where it is flown regularly and on the day of the funeral where the funeral takes place,” an official statement said.