Pramod Mahajan is Dead!

Pramod Mahajan is dead! With this the decline of BJP gets even more pronounced. He was one of the top leaders in the second string after the Vajpayee and Advani brigade! Unless the party can come up with something dramatic.. its destined for an end soon!!

The wily 56-year old Deshastha brahmin was not only the 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 Bharati from the party or keeping the mercurial ally Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in good humour.

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, the ‘Lakshmana’ of BJP who was felled by the ‘Vibhishana’ of his own family has 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, the high-profile communications minister in the previous NDA government was not a ‘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.

A right hand man of senior BJP leader L K Advani, it did not take much time for Mahajan to move closer to Atal Behari 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, as was done by the former Deputy Prime Minister during the party’s Chennai conclave in September 2005.

Overnight, he became a strong pillar for the RSS-backed new party chief Rajnath Singh, who amply rewarded him by making him the party general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, Goa and Uttaranchal and in-charge of poll-bound Assam. He was also made secretary of the powerful Central Election Committee and Parliamentary Board.

BJP’s evergreen and ambitious trouble-shooter, Mahajan was described as the party’s ‘Lakshman’ by former Prime Minister Atal Behari 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 the flaunting of 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.

Known for his brilliant oratorial skills in Marathi and Hindi, his organisational competence and his fundraising abilities, the high-profile BJP general secretary, who held a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Political Science, began his career as a sub-editor with pro-RSS Marathi daily Tarun Bharat.

Though elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996 (but lost in 1998), he could never emerge as a mass leader and came to be acknowledged both by friends and foes for his managerial skills, for his skills in dealing with people and finances.

Mahajan, who was lodged in the Nasik Central Jail during the Emergency, hogged national headlines with the BJP-Shiv Sena’s electoral victory in Maharashtra in 1995, which catapulted him to the centre stage of party affairs.

He was president of the party’s youth wing in 1986 and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in the same year. He was re-elected in July 1992 and again in July 1998.

From the Bollywood sets at the party’s silver jubilee bash in Mumbai to the Diwali-like fireworks during Advani’s yatra at Solapur recently, Mahajan had always been the party’s ultimate showman.

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