RLP chief Sharad Yadav remembers George Fernandes as the man who inducted him into politics, a revolutionary with a zeal for passionate speeches.
I met George Fernandes for the first time in prison in 1973. I was charged under provisions of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act over my role in the agitation in Uttar Pradesh.
I again met George sahab in prison during the Emergency years.
He was my senior but both of us were followers of Jayaprakash Narayan. Hum log ek raah ke raahi the (We were travellers on the same path).
George sahab taught me the rough and tumble of politics. He was also instrumental in me getting a ticket, to contest my first election in 1974, resolutely persuading Jayaprakash Narayan to hand me one.
His role did not end there. He was with me throughout my election campaign with little regard to whether I was winning or losing.
The rest, as they say, is history.
George sahab’s life is a story of sangram ( revolution).
Wherever there was an incident of excess against the poor, you would find George sahab there. He raised his voice against injustice anywhere and everywhere, from the rail strikes to taking up the cause of the poor in Mumbai.
Wherever there was any case related to the underprivileged George sahab was there.
In later years, my association with Fernandes continued — inside and outside Parliament. He was an unrivalled orator and I have many fond memories of him debating passionately.
We also sparred occasionally over issues. I missed all this ever since he fell ill. He was unwell for a long time but it is difficult to accept that he is no more. I feel a big void.
It is sad that Fernandes did not get the due recognition he deserved.
The system that we have today will not honour people like George sahab. He was someone who changed the system. The country today needs more rebel leaders like George Fernandes.
(Sharad Yadav, 73, the chief of Loktantrik Janata Dal spoke to Moushumi Das Gupta )
This article has been updated to reflect the changes.