Thursday, May 04, 2006

So Long - Pramod Mahajan.

Lets go back to the torrid mid nineties for a moment. When those fiery speeches by Vajpayee made BJP fashionable and almost everyone a fan of his - even if they did not agree with him. The way he spoke, the way he rebutted oppositions argument with deft logic and sound facts. If you noticed carefully - he mostly spoke impromptu. But at some crucial points - he would look down on some scribblings on his desk and lash out at Congress with a new argument. If you wondered where those little notes came from - look no farther than Pramod Mahajan. That was his job. Mostly invisible, but indispensable. That's why he was my kind of politician.

Politics, contrary to popular belief, not only involves spreading your ideology to people who most likely is going to vote for you. You have to optimally identify those people. And you would need huge amount of money for that and so many things. That's where backroom leaders like Mahajan come in. You need bright people who would be able to sit down and devise strategies. And as much as you would hate to admit - you need people with connections to industry bosses with money. Not everyone can do it. If one looks at every big BJP election victory in last decade - you will invariably see his involvement on these fronts. He camped out to states - not as much as for active campaigning - but to mobilize the organization. And as everyone, especially my Bengali friends know so well, how much important is that one aspect in electoral politics.

Sure he suffered reverses. The BJP's losing grip over Mumbai in particular and Maharashtra in general, stunning setbacks in UP, unexpected loss in last general elections and his name being dragged into controversies. But the man was not God. He worked within the system. And at a time when BJP is suffering its biggest identity crisis in years.

After Vajpayee, Few leaders in BJP can hold their own in public speaking or in a debate. Arun Jaitley is suave, Sushma Swaraj is articulate - but Mahajan was both. His loss will hurt BJP in almost every sphere of the organization.

I always thought if someday I join politics by some rare turn of events - he is someone I would have modeled myself on. That's my ultimate tribute to the Pramod Mahajan.

This was no way to die.

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