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The Rediff Special / Sachin Pilot
'Daddy taught us to be positive'
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Sachin Pilot, 23, is coping well with the tragic death of his father in an accident on Sunday. After the chaos of the last couple of days, the loss has just about begun to sink in. The mourners have started to leave the house, and memories are slipping in quietly - one by one. The stories Rajesh Pilot told his children when they were young are now all coming back. Here, in this first-person, his son, a student of Wharton Business School, tells it like it was:
My father came from a very humble background. His father died when dad was just 10. Ever since, he had to work hard in life. When he was in Class V he came to Delhi with a cousin who owned a small dairy near Birla Mandir. Everyday, early in the morning, dad would deliver milk from house to house. He attended school in the day and returned to the dairy in the evening. Only late in the night, would he get some time to study.
I think it was all the hard work that he put in during his childhood, coupled with the discipline he imbibed during his days in the Indian Air Force, that stood him in good stead in the rough and tumble of Indian politics.
I remember a story he would tell us often. He was called for a physical after having cleared the written part of the Air Force entrance. When he reached the ground where the physical was to take place, he realised that he was the only one who was not dressed in shorts and running shoes. In fact, he was wearing an old pyjama and an equally old shirt.
The instructor, of course, was quick to point this out. "You are not in proper uniform, you can't be selected. You must wear shoes and shorts."
Daddy, however, was not one to get disheartened by such rebukes. He asked the instructor to give him a chance. "Don't let my clothes bother you. Let me run. If I fail that is ok. Let destiny decide."
Of course, he gave the test and was selected.
He worked hard in the Air Force. Good fifteen years. But I think he wanted more. He wanted to give something back to society, to his village, to his people. Air Force offered him only a limited scope.
Politics during those days was a tough game. He was not backed by a family of politicians, he was not rich, he was not well connected, he had no godfathers... it doesn't work like that.
But, he was a man of strong convictions. He lived by some principles and stood for them throughout his life. He was a very, very strong man. He lost his father when he was young, he had three sisters to marry, his younger brother died at the age of 21. He had seen a lot of suffering in his life... but all that would never show on his face. He was always happy, always smiling, always positive.
And that is what he taught us. He taught us to be positive.
Daddy was a deeply religious man too. He would not indulge in all the soshabazi generally associated with religion. But every morning, every day of his life, he prayed for two minutes. I think that gave him the strength to deal with challenges.
He knew nobody in the field when he decided to join politics. He just walked into the AICC office one day and told Madame (Indira) Gandhi he wanted to have a word with her. She was kind enough to grant him an audience. He told her that he wanted to contest elections from Bhagpat. Mrs Gandhi told him that he had a good career and also that politics was not meant for people like him. His answer was: " Ma'am, I have made up my mind. I have come here to seek your blessings, not your permission."
I think Mrs Gandhi was impressed by his resolve and put him on to Sanjay Gandhi. Daddy was later given a ticket for Bharatpur in Rajasthan.
He had never been to Bharatpur. He knew nobody. But he had this steely resolve that compensated for everything else.
He was a hard-working politician. He kept in touch with everybody. He visited every nook and corner of India. He kept in touch with common people. He disliked sycophancy.
Daddy loved driving and also flying. He never missed a chance to fly. In Dausa, he never allowed himself the luxury of being driven around. His excuse was that it is difficult to make the driver stop the car frequently.
He enjoyed driving. We never thought something like this would happen to him. I used to worry about him because he was involved in sensitive areas like Kashmir and the north-east. A couple of attempts were made on his life. That's what worried me. But I never though he would be taken away from us like this... it's all destiny, I believe."
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