MUMBAI: Pramod Mahajan'sdeath at the age of 56 has numbed most Indians, some refusing to believe the news that broke on May 3. The scene at the hospital was sombre minutes after Pramod Lele, Chief Executive Officer of P.D. Hinduja Hospital and Research Centre, announced Pramod'spassing away at 4:10 pm. ?It is with deep regret we have to announce that Pramod Mahajan, who had been battling for life for the last 12 days, succumbed to his bullet injuries,? he said. The doctors tried their best but God willed otherwise, Lele added. Mahajan had been put on ventilatory, ionotropic and dialysis support for several days and his condition had started deteriorating a day before his death.
Pramod Mahajan had been suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) for the past four days and that is what has caused his death, another doctor told the media waiting outside the hospital. The three bullets shot by his brother Pravin, in a fit of a rage that edged on jealousy, self-pity and arrogance, were still inside Pramod Mahajan'sbody till death. The BJP office at Nariman Point soon afterwards witnessed a huge gathering of BJP workers and office-goers who were reluctant to believe that Pramod Mahajan is dead. The funeral held at Shivaji Park crematorium was attended by all BJP leaders.
Pramod Mahajan has been variedly described by the media as a master strategist for BJP, efficient fund-raiser and troubleshooter. But Pramod Mahajan will also be known for his unconventional wisdom, his pursuit of all things good for BJP. His RSS background, being an active member since his college days, had ostensibly made him an organiser and a go-getter that other political parties would envy. Most remarkably, he was the Parliamentary Affairs Minister when the POTA Bill was passed by the NDA government under difficult circumstances, which the UPA government so shamelessly revoked. He had an unusual insistence on efficiency which he brought about in all the ministries he had led. A pink newspaper recently gave credit to Mahajan for having made the dream of mobile phone for the poorer sections happen.
For the English teacher in Ambejogai in Beed district, who took up journalism as a means to serve the people, life was deservedly more than fulfilling. Pramod Mahajan wrote a column in Tarun Bharat newspaper even as he started working as a sub-editor in the same paper. He is known to have bought a bicycle and later a scooter to take rounds to his village and the surrounding regions scouting for news.
There is this outstanding quality of Pramod Mahajan that is recognised by many newsmen who cover politics?he would never shoo away reporters from little known newspapers and regional TV channels. During his visit to Mumbai when he was IT Minister, he held a press briefing at the BJP office in Mumbai. This correspondent at that time working for a website asked him three questions at one go. But before Pramod Mahajan could complete, another reporter from a well-known Marathi newspaper butt in with her question. When this reporter almost turned back thinking Pramod Mahajan would prefer to answer the more influential media, he said, ?hold on, I am not finished.? On another occasion when this reporter called up Mahajan at his Purna residence in Mumbai on the Bhau Beej day, he himself lifted the phone. There were no stone-walling PAs and secretaries. He always remained down to earth and accessible to people. But at the silver jubilee celebrations of BJP last December, Pramod Mahajan was in his elements. During the first press conference of the Mahadhiveshan, former Foreign Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh produced a document, which said interesting things about UPA'sambiguous foreign policy. But surprisingly the first question asked by a newsman was: ?Your last adhiveshan was in a five-star hotel, now it is in the modest Rang Sharda. Isn'tthat a climb down?? Mahajan, without batting an eyelid, took the mike and said: ?Yes, you can write that it is a grand victory of journalists over politicians.? That was the last question on the subject.
Even during Pramod Mahajan's12-day-long stay at Hinduja Hospital, relations visiting patients did not mind the restriction on their movement. The large visitors? area on the ground floor of the hospital was out of bounds for visitors the first day. But then as days passed poignant scenes at the foyer showed that visitors themselves sought to reason that Pramod Mahajan was precariously holding on to life, so they should accommodate. The BJP workers, in no less measure, rose to the occasion, just as trained by Pramod Mahajan in management of public events, and helped patients and their relations. The second floor of the hospital, which houses the ICU on one side and rooms under renovation on the other, was completely transformed ever since Mahajan was admitted to the hospital. It is not just the doctors who did their best to save the sinking BJP leader, whose complications only multiplied everyday after the admission, the management of the hospital also contributed their bit. In the end fate had its way.