Mumbai : Sans Pramod Mahajan, neither his family – struggling with son Rahul’s drug controversy and murder proceedings against brother Pravin – nor his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have found the past 12 months an easy ride.
Like BJP, many other parties, including its saffron alliance partner Shiv Sena, continue to miss the articulation of the GenNext leader, whose life was cut short by his own brother a year ago.
Thursday marks a year after the death of Mahajan, born Oct 30, 1949, who succumbed to gunshot wounds inflicted by brother Pravin on April 22 last year with a .32-bore pistol, apparently for personal reasons, in the Worli apartment where the Mahajans stayed.
Tech-savvy, suave and moderate, Mahajan used to be the CEO of BJP’s poll management team and was known for handling any crisis effectively.
To observe his death anniversary, the Maharashtra unit of BJP has organised a function here, and as mark of respect, party leader L.K. Advani will release a book in his memory in the presence of his brother-in-law and former deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde.
For the Mahajan-Munde family, the year has not been too good with another blow coming in the form of the untimely death of Bibek Maitra, the late leader’s personal secretary, and Pramod’s son Rahul getting embroiled in a drug controversy.
Rahul remained unconscious for several hours in a Delhi hospital and was sent to Tihar jail on regaining consciousness. Maitra was not as lucky and died – exactly a month after Mahajan’s death.
When Rahul later married Jet Airways pilot Shweta Singh, people thought that the woes of the Mahajan family would end. But then surfaced allegations of wife beating, which was, however, denied by both the sides.
Meanwhile, Mahajan’s daughter Poonam Mahajan-Rao officially joined the BJP – and is now being seen to carry forward her father’s rich political legacy.
The Mahajan murder trial is being conducted in a sessions court in Mumbai and three important members of the Mahajan family – his widow Rekha, his brother-in-law Munde and the latter’s wife Pradnya – have deposed before additional sessions judge Srihari Davare, who is presiding over the trial.
Pravin, lodged in the Arthur Road jail – one of the biggest jails in Asia, has maintained a stoic silence throughout. He proclaimed innocence in court though the fact remains that it was he who walked into the Worli police station and surrendered after pumping three bullets from his licensed weapon.
Rekha Mahajan’s statement in court makes it clear that the two brothers were not on the best of terms with each other. She testified in a trial court that “eight to 10 days” before he was shot, Pravin had come asking for Rs.10 million.
Munde, who was once Maharashtra’s home minister, has said in court that a “few days” before the incident, Pramod had received a “threatening” SMS from Pravin.
“Now there will be no more prayers or pleas. Now there will be war and there will either be victory or an end to it all…” read the message received by Munde.
Munde told the trial court that Pramod had also received this message.
On the other hand, Pravin’s wife Sarangi told the court that she has been threatened by alleged BJP workers.
The matter took a new twist when Munde’s wife Pradnya told the court that Pravin was a “liar” and flourished only because of Pramod.
As far as politics in Maharashtra is concerned, Mahajan was the chief architect of the Sena-BJP alliance and is being missed sorely by both the parties – a fact acknowledged by even Sena chief Bal Thackeray.
Be it seat-sharing in local polls or political strategies, both parties definitely miss the trouble-shooter and orator who was considered an expert on wide-ranging issues.
Even though blamed for ushering in a “five-star culture” in his party, Mahajan, a former union communications and IT minister, is today a recognised figure far and wide.