As a 15-year-old, Prakash Mehta would often paint important political announcements by the Jan Sangh on the city’s walls. His family says the newly-inducted Cabinet minister retains the enthusiasm of that teenager.
The six-term Ghatkopar legislator’s family comprises his wife Kishori, their two sons – Abhishek and Harsh – and Abhishek’s wife Riddhi. The family business today deals with stock-broking and construction, but traces its origins to the tea industry. “I keep telling him (Prakash) that in some ways he is the original chaiwallah,” laughs Kishori.
Many see Mehta’s appointment as a gesture by the BJP towards the Gujarati community, one of its largest support bases. The family, however, disagrees. “There is no such (Marathi-Gujarati) divide in society,” says elder son Abhishek, 28. “My father’s appointment is based on the fact that he has been elected six consecutive times coupled with his blemish-free record.”
Prakash’s long political innings has understandably involved sacrifices at home. Riddhi says her mother-in-law had to make the most sacrifices.
“It was their 25th wedding But he followed his routine, leaving early morning and returning late at night. He had dinner and was about to go to sleep when we finally told him that it was his anniversary,” says Abhishek, even as the family breaks into laughter. The last film that the family saw together was Baghban in 2003. “First and last,” Abhishek adds.
With Prakash being a larger than life figure in Ghatkopar for nearly 25 years now, the Mehta residence witnesses a seemingly unending streaming of visitors.
“At some point, it does get a bit bothersome but we are used to it now,” says Kishori, his wife of 31 years.
Prakash has been a minister before, during the 1995-99 Shiv Sena-BJP government. The family feels his newest role won’t change anything.
“He is the kind of man who, if our driver is not in the car, doesn’t hesitate to just take an auto or ask passing bikers for a lift,” says younger son, Harsh.