Home Minister Amit Shah is often referred to as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s master strategist or modern-day Chanakya, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for his oratory skills and his ability to draw an audience and hold their attention. However, nearly two decades back one man was credited with both — being a master strategist and a compelling orator.
This was Pramod Mahajan, who was the BJP’s election manager in the 2004 national election campaign, the brainchild behind the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition in Maharashtra and union minister in both of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s governments.
Pramod Mahajan was shot dead by his brother, Pravin, in 2006.
On his 14th death anniversary, ThePrint recalls how the BJP’s master strategist rose from an RSS pracharak to union minister and how he helped the party embrace the digital age.
Also read: How is Modi’s BJP different from the one founded by Advani-Vajpayee 40 years ago?
RSS pracharak to Union minister
Pramod Mahajan was born on 30 October 1949 in Mahbubnagar (present-day Telangana). He was a member of the RSS from a young age, but got actively involved when he became the sub-editor of its Marathi Newspaper, Tarun Bharat, in 1970 and 1971. Mahajan completed his Bachelors in Journalism in Pune, and followed that up with a Masters in Political Science.
In 1974, he left his job as a school teacher and became a full-time RSS pracharak. It was in the RSS that his political career began, as he was part of the batch that was selected to join the BJP in 1979. And there was no looking back.
From 1983 to 1985, he was the All India Secretary of the party and then became the president of the All India Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in 1986, a post his daughter Poonam Mahajan now holds.
Although he had nationalist aspirations and helped organise L.K. Advani’s rath yatra in 1990, he was also instrumental in the politics of his home state Maharashtra. It was Mahajan who was the mastermind behind the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, which began in 1995, and who ensured that it weathered many political storms. According to a report, he was the only person in the BJP whom Bal Thackeray trusted.
Referred to as an ‘all-purpose man‘ and the practical face of the party, he was made defence nminister in Vajpayee’s 13-day government in 1996 and when the party returned to power in 1998, he was given the Information and Broadcasting and Food Processing portfolios. A year later, he was moved to Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources, and then, finally, assumed charge as the Union Minister of Information Technology along with Parliamentary Affairs.
Master strategist and digital friendly
Mahajan was called the technocrat of the BJP, a party that had many older leaders. He helped them embrace the digital age. An India Today article said of him, “Controversies do not contain him, personal flaws cannot slow him down, political failures cannot deter him, and media-friendly modesty is definitely not his trademark. He has made politics interesting; and made the BJP a lot more compatible with the digital age. Pramod rhymes with panache.”
Shortly after the party’s defeat in the 2004 national elections, Mahajan was back on the ground campaigning for Maharashtra. He shed his image as a technocrat and went on door-to-door campaign. And he held the attention of the audience the way people speak today about Narendra Modi. In an interview with Barkha Dutt at the time, he said he had a “never-say-die” attitude and approached elections professionally, the way a sportsman does.
The interview also showed how his degree in journalism influenced his politics and how digitally savvy he was, when he told his staff not to throw the poha box he offered her as she might need it for her shot (video package).
The tragic end
Mahajan was one of the few politicians who took complete responsibility for the 2004 loss. Yet he was still seen as the troubleshooter and was a close aide of both Vajpayee and Advani. He had already been credited for the BJP’s victory in the 2003 Rajasthan assembly polls, and was credited for building consensus around APJ Abdul Kalam as the party’s candidate for President.
On 22 April 2006, Mahajan’s elder brother Pravin entered his apartment and shot him three times. He was unable to clear the entire round of nine bullets because the fourth bullet got jammed. The cause of the fight was a personal dispute — Pravin told the police that he shot Pramod to avenge the humiliation he inflicted on him. He also called Mahajan the curse of his life and said that he did nothing to support him financially. Mahajan battled for almost a fortnight but died of his injuries on 3 May. He was 56 years old.
Upon his death, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said, “The country has lost a skilled organiser, a forceful orator and an aggressive representative of its youth”
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The Most corrupt politician India ever produced. Thank god he is dead.
Revathi you are a sycophant cheap half backed journalist.Please check the facts on his power exploitation during 1999to 2004 govt.
Revathi.. you must have been a psycophant of RSS or the Rougue leader Pramod kachadjan, People like you the half backed journalists don’t understand who is the able leader or not.
He was a curse to the nation corrupt of the highest order.India should honour Praveen Mahajan for his novel deed.
Ghadkhri and Pramodkachadjan are the 2faces of the same corrupt coin.
Revathi Please surrender your press card for promoting wrong people.
Pramod Mahajan is preferable anytime over HM Mr Amit Shah , the HM is unforgiving person and exacts revenge on anyone who even tried to oppose him , also HM is a pure communal racist and hates Muslims to the core , if given a free hand would willingly eliminste man , woman and child , old or young muslims all over India , Pramod Mahajan would never fit this agenda .
Nice Article Revathi.
History would have been different if BJP has won 2004 and Pramod continued to live on. Unfortunately, he was no more soon after 2006. Otherwise, along with Venkaiyaah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj, they would have formed a strong coterie as the leaders Next Gen of BJP. after 2009. It was a tragic loss for the country.
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