From scribe to minister: The rise of Rajiv Shukla
From a small-town scribe to national-level journalist to becoming a TV baron and now inducted into the Union council of ministers in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's second reshuffle, Rajiv Shukla's story has been that of rise and rise, writes Sharat Pradhan.
Three decades ago when the young lad from Kanpur joined the Dainik Jagran, he was just another scribe working for a then essentially local Hindi daily from Kanpur with a small presence in Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow.
Thanks to his mentor late Vinod Shukla, a one-time institution in the Jagran group, Rajiv always remained ahead of his colleagues in displaying his inherent initiative and drive. Opportunities came his way and he made skillful use of each one of them.
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Image: Newly appointed Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla at the swearing-in ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday
Photographs: Courtesy: Press Information Bureau
Rajiv 'exposing' V P Singh: The push that he needed
As such, he found it convenient to get an entry into 'Ravivar' that was launched by the Anand Bazar group with much fanfare under the dynamic leadership of celebrated journalist Udayan Sharma.
It was here that Rajiv made his mark and got noticed -- thanks to the series of stories he wrote against former prime minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who, at that point of time, had emerged as the nation's messiah.
At a time when Singh -- then better known as the Raja of Manda (the erstwhile feudal state to which he belonged) -- was busy exposing the infamous Bofors deal and being hailed as some kind of "reincarnate of Jai Prakash Narayan", this young scribe got down to doing an expose of how Singh had indulged in major manipulations to save his princely property.
Rajiv wrote how Singh's wife went to the extent of getting her husband declared as "mentally unsound" to retrieve a huge chunk of land that the Raja of Manda had bequeathed to a social cause under the banner of 'Sarvodaya' movement.
Image: Former Prime Minister V P Singh
Soon he became a darling of the Gandhi family
Overnight, Rajiv became a darling of the Gandhis, who were under fire for all that was said about their involvement in the Bofors case that provoked the exit of V P Singh from the then Rajiv Gandhi government.
Thereafter, there was no looking back and Rajiv continued to march ahead. Even before Ravivar folded up, Rajiv had made a place for himself in English journalism by getting bylines in Sunday -- thanks to editor Vir Sanghvi , who was always ready to give him the push.
And before the Anand Bazar group said good-bye to Sunday' Rajiv was handpicked by the Ambanis to work for their then newly acquired Sunday Observer.
Even as he switched to English, Rajiv continued to maintain links with his roots at Dainik Jagran, where he made it a point to run lead articles.
Image: There has been no looking back for Rajiv Shukla
Rajiv has maintained good PR with people who matter
Meanwhile, he also made his way up in politics of cricket by skillful use of his clout, which propelled him to the coveted position of Board of Cricket Control Board in India vice-president.
Simultaneously, he made inroads into TV journalism by doing special shows for his wife Anuradha Prasad's venture -- BAG films -- which later graduated into an independent news channel News-24.
Apart from building a huge business empire of his own, he was known for having a finger in every pie. Rajiv's affable mannerism and ability to communicate have led him to maintain good PR with people who matter -- anywhere and everywhere, including the opposition parties like Bharatiya Janata Party.
In fact, his wife Anuradha is the sister of BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Image: BCCI chief Shashank Manohar with vice president Rajiv Shukla (right) during a media interaction
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters