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BJP loses its master strategist
K G Suresh in Mumbai |
May 03, 2006 18:41 IST
Pramod Mahajan's was a truly meteoric rise in the country's political landscape. It took him from an obscure Maharashtra village to the corridors of power in which he moved with consummate ease of a master player.
The wily 56-year old Deshastha Brahmin was not only the Bharatiya Janata Party's master strategist but also its fundraiser and evergreen troubleshooter. He never shied away from any task assigned to him, irrespective of the consequences, whether it be easing out Uma Bharti from the party or keeping mercurial ally Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in good humour.
Complete coverage: Pramod Mahajan shot
Often referred to as an 'all purpose man', the indefatigable and 'practical' face of the saffron party, Mahajan brought into it a culture and style, which was alien to the wider Sangh Parivar. Blunt and outspoken, he always courted controversies and remained the target of envy and attack of both his colleagues and opponents for his abilities and ambition.
A great survivor in the turbulent saffron politics, he was the high-profile communications minister in the previous National Democratic Alliance government. He was no "paratrooper" who landed on a top position from nowhere but worked his way hard up in the party hierarchy beginning with Jan Sangh and later Janata Party and the BJP.
Images: A tribute to Pramod Mahajan
A right hand man of senior BJP leader L K Advani, it did not take much time for Mahajan to move closer to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who made him defence minister in his 13-day government in 1996.
He went on to become political advisor to Vajpayee in 1998 and was later made communications minister. With the tide turning against Advani in the wake of the Jinnah controversy, Mahajan too started singing paeans for collective leadership and indirectly opposed public criticism of the RSS.
Overnight, he became a strong pillar for the RSS-backed new party chief Rajnath Singh, who amply rewarded him by making him party general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, Goa and Uttaranchal and the poll-bound Assam. He was also made secretary of the powerful Central Election Committee and Parliamentary Board.
Mahajan's last days
Mahajan was described as the party's 'Lakshman' by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Mumbai recently and is credited, among other things, with building consensus around the name of A P J Abdul Kalam for the country's presidency and the party's victory in the Rajasthan assembly polls in December 2003.
However, controversies continued to dog him. From flaunting a mobile phone at the party's Mumbai plenary in 1995 to the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case and the links with corporate giant Reliance, Mahajan remained in the headlines many times for the wrong reasons.
The first indication that Mahajan's condition had worsened and he might not survive came when a large number of political leaders, including Sushma Swaraj and Bal Thackeray visited the hospital in the afternoon. A large number of BJP workers also gathered outside the hospital.
Pay tribute to Pramod Mahajan
Senior BJP leader L K Advani and party President Rajnath Singh cut short their yatras and flew to Mumbai.
Mahajan's body would be kept at the BJP state headquarters at Nariman Point in south Mumbai from 8 pm till late night, after which it will be taken to his residence at Worli in central Mumbai.
The funeral procession will begin at 10 am from the Worli residence and last rites will be performed at Shivaji Park crematorium, state BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said.