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?Mahajan cannot be replaced?

Mahajan was one of the most competent ministers I have ever seen, writes Yashwant Sinha.

india Updated: May 04, 2006 01:34 IST

Pramod Mahajan and I sat next to each other in the Rajya Sabha; after his seat was the aisle. The closeness did not end there.

My last meeting with Mahajan was at Silchar in Assam on March 23. I had offered to go to Assam to look after the BJP’s election campaign under his overall guidance. He suggested to me that I should camp at Silchar and look after the 15 seats in the Barak Valley.

I arrived at Silchar in the afternoon of March 23. Mahajan was out campaigning. In the evening, he came straight from the campaign trail to my hotel room. There was no trace of fatigue. He was full of energy, very alert, very alive. As was his wont, he gave me a detailed account of each seat in the Barak Valley and an account of our position in the state. I was naturally impressed by his knowledge of every little detail, his understanding of the political situation, his strategy and his advice to me. Then he handed over to me two documents — the first was a summary account of our position in each seat and the second was a document containing all the information one might want on every seat. That was Pramod Mahajan — a stickler for detail, a systematic organiser, a dynamic campaigner, a popular leader, a man who inspired confidence all around.

We had dinner together that evening. I was a little intrigued when he asked the waiter to bring him an onion mukka mar ke. He noticed my bewilderment and explained it was how he ate his onion — a whole onion crushed, not cut or sliced.

Mahajan was one of the most competent ministers I have ever seen, as politician and as civil servant. He quickly acquired mastery over whatever subject he dealt with. He would not brook any delay. Once he spoke to me on the phone about an issue relating to the IT sector. I was at my constituency and he wanted the Finance Ministry’s clearance conveyed to him on the phone. I told him I would be returning to Delhi in a couple of days and we could perhaps discuss the matter then.

He said he could not wait that long. Since I was familiar with the subject myself and also knew how important it was, I agreed to convey the Finance Ministry’s approval on the phone. There was nobody quite like him. Pramod Mahajan is irreplaceable.

First Published: May 04, 2006 01:34 IST