It is said that every moment one lives is death suspended and every step one takes is a fall averted. It is difficult to fathom that Pramod Mahajan is not with us any more. He was so full of energy. He radiated life. His dynamic presence was so fulfilling that he created a belief that there was nothing impossible with Pramod Mahajan around. He had created so much confidence that party men stopped thinking in his absence. There were many who believed that Pramod Mahajan was the troubleshooter for the BJP. He was the organiser of election campaigns; he was the negotiator for making political tie-ups. He was the fund-raiser for all the major party events. And he was the GenNext of the BJP.
Like Rajiv Gandhi in the mid-80s in the Congress, Pramod Mahajan redefined BJP'spolitics and priorities. He brought in a new era in the party. He was the whiz kid of the BJP. He had perfectly networked his political progress and his influence, power and reach made even the party veterans hugely dependent on him. He changed the contour and substance of the party. The speed was frightening. Many could not agree. But his lustrous, magnetic pull silenced all opposition.
Mahajan'sdeath more than his life manifested the unimaginable frontiers of his power and media image. His admirers are spread all over the national canvas. It defied all political divide. Corporates, film mughals, media circuit and social elite alike eulogised his achievements. His accomplishments as a strategist, parliamentarian, manager of political affairs and leader were so convincing that some commentators went on to paint a phase of eclipse for the BJP. They were neither the friends of Mahajan or his party. But even as they lavished praise on the departed leader, they made it a point to simultaneously run down the party, which Mahajan described, was like his mother. ?What more can I ask? This party has given me everything,? he once said.
No other politician in the recent memory did get the kind of media adulation as Pramod Mahajan. His death was shocking; his absence will for long be felt and we will all miss his smiling demeanour, his disarming wit, and easy camaraderie.
What was it that made Pramod Mahajan such a charming personality? His inexhaustible youth? Indomitable optimism or never-say-die spirit? Many say he was a very obliging politician.
For those like us, who were never too close to him, who watched him from a distance, it is Pramod Mahajan'seasy access, infectious exuberance that immediately come to mind. That he was a shrewd, savvy, sanguine politician is not an honest compliment. It is well acknowledged that he was a tactician, thinker and fund-raiser. He was a consummate grass-roots politician, who rose from the ranks, who took politics both as a game and a career, who in his tireless journey created a huge constituency of goodwill and a large circle of influential followers. That he was seen as a power station of future politics by many, a potential party president and prime ministerial candidate in the waiting are all the obvious encomiums. And writing an epitaph, one is always lavish with words.
Pramod was not born with a silver spoon, but he was born with a golden tongue. It is his gripping oratory that made him an instant hit. He was equally good as a debater and conversationist. He could talk trap even his worst adversary.
He was always prompt in returning phone calls. Ever willing to meet a deadline, a commitment. His last published article appeared in the Organiser Republic Day Special, dated January 29, 2006. The issue was devoted to Role of Ideology in Polity. When we contacted Mahajan for an article he was busy campaigning for by-elections in Maharashtra. Yet he agreed to write and kept the word. He wrote the piece in Pune-Delhi flight in his own handwriting. In the covering letter he wrote, ?Please edit it properly, specially spelling mistakes, where I had doubt about spelling I have underlined, otherwise there are no underlines in the article. Can you paragraph my article as I have paragraphed? Keeping my fingers crossed about the value of the article. Thank you brother.? This was Pramod Mahajan. So upright and endearingly candid. When I met him after the article was published at a meeting in Jaipur, I told him half seriously, ?I am keeping your hand-written copy, for the day when you will be Prime Minister.? He laughed and said, ?Yes you must.? By the way, there was no spelling mistake and no need to edit. It only confirmed how clear, methodical and structured his approach was. One may not agree with his belief that end justifies the means, but I never felt him to be arrogant. He was both simple and pompous at the same time. But it seemed he was fascinated by the American style of political campaign. Perhaps he was ahead of his times.
There are people who believe that he was easy going on ideological issues. But in that article he emphasised, ?Ideology is the equity of a party. Polity is an aggregate of actions of political parties.? But he admitted: ?The people of India have always loved the Bharatiya Janata Party for its strong ideological convictions. Though even today they consider BJP the best among the lot, the chariot of BJP'sDharmaraj has touched the ground. But people have not lost hope? BJP should try its level best to come out of the present eclipse and fill this vacuum.?
I remember attending a meeting of the BJP committee on Silver Jubilee celebrations early last year. Pramod Mahajan had come prepared with a notepad and he had a blue print for the year-long celebrations culminating in the Mahaadhiveshan in Mumbai in 2005. Every programme, he mentioned, every place that he marked, had something to do with the historic journey of the party through the decades. Pramod could easily catch the spirit of the occasion.
Even as he was deeply involved in the pragmatic engineering of coalition politics Pramod had his commitments clearly underlined.
I first interviewed Pramod way back in June 1989, in a hotel room in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, where he had gone to attend the crucial BJP National Executive. I was with The Week then. This BJP meeting was historic because it was here the BJP decided to support and take up the Ramjanmabhoomi movement and to align with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. Many senior leaders including Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee had reservations. Pramod was sitting with Gopinath Munde. I asked him you are canvassing for a tie-up with the Shiv Sena. But the party is not unanimous on the issue. He said, it is natural that many of us have serious reservations. But, as long as Balasaheb Thackeray is alive, his popularity will remain and it is practical for us to join hands, if we want to defeat Congress, and be of relevance in the state.
Incisive and penetrating analysis of a political context was Pramod Mahajan'strademark. He was a leader for whom success was the touchstone of ideology.
Both in life and in death Mahajan defied logic. For the new breed of BJP leaders Mahajan was the role model. For him, ideology was the indispensable ingredient. But without success ideology cannot sustain on its own. And for success, the dispensability of ideology cannot be disputed, he believed. He combined practical wisdom with organisational acumen. It was his qualities and abilities that made him what he was. He did not inherit them. Or they did not come easily for him. In every sense, he was a self-made man. What made Mahajan the phenomenon he was? Was it his brilliance? His oratory? His hard work? His success? Or his enduring zeal for perseverant political engineering? He had an obvious disdain for orthodox ways. He had no time for the old and the outdated. His style and flamboyance raised many eyebrows. Everybody admired Mahajan but all did not agree with him. Some feared a disconnect in the course he took and the tradition of the party.
It will be difficult for the BJP to come to terms with Mahajan'sdemise. He was in the thick of electioneering. In Assam, where he was the in-charge of the BJP campaign, the party is expected to do better than other states where polls are being held.
It was an unbelievably abrupt end of an ambitious dream. May be it is a measure of the popularity and influence that Mahajan enjoyed in the circuit that matters, which prompted the hype to his saddening end. Or is it the concern for the future of India'ssecond largest party, the BJP, that created this wave of angst? Difficult to say, because we are too close to the times, personalities and events that shape them. Only one thing can be said for certain. Pramod Mahajan personified a very distinct, highly sophisticated and not so contemporary facet of Indian polity. Politics without him will be so much more melancholic. May his soul rest in peace.