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?Not a normal type?

Talk to BJP leader Pramod Mahajan?s wife Rekha and she?ll tell you that he has a vicious temper. Talk to the people who work for him and they say he is cool-headed.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 03:31 IST

Talk to BJP leader Pramod Mahajan’s wife Rekha and she’ll tell you that he has a vicious temper. Talk to the people who work for him and they say he is cool-headed: “Shaant swabhav,” to quote Vivek Moitra, Mahajan’s Man Friday. Nicknamed ‘Pamiya’ Mahajan proposed to Rekha in a cowshed in his native village Ambajogai in Marathwada. There were no parks in the village and the famous Devi temple was out of question because crowds thronged it.

Co-stars in several Marathi plays, by Pamiya’s own admission Rekha was a better performer and always bagged prizes. On her part Rekha felt he was a class apart and very different from others his age. “Not a normal type of guy,” she recalls. The marriage happened before it was scheduled because Pramod had to perform his sister’s kanyadaan which he was forbidden to as a bachelor. That was way back in March 11, 1972.

Till he became a full time political worker, Pramod always shopped for sarees for his wife. When the financial situation eased a bit, he graduated to buying watches and sometimes jewellery. Yet, Rekha’s invaluable possession was the one rupee note he gave her on Diwali in the initial years with a promise: “Jab barega to aur deta jaoonga” (When I can afford it I’ll increase the amount.) Rekha kept that note till it was misplaced three years ago.

It was also at Pramod’s bidding that she prematurely ended her fast because he wanted to take the family out to dinner. For someone like Pramod, who is not ritualistical or religious, fasting every alternate day like Rekha did was incomprehensible. That she has now brought the rate down to twice a week is another matter: “Only Tuesday and Saturday,” she says. Pramod on his part does not visit temples or wear any good luck charm or rings except the ‘ek mukhi rudraksh’ gifted to him by the Congress’s Subbarami Reddy.

A proud father of two, Pramod believes in celebrations, be it birthdays or wedding anniversaries. As if on cue, his son Rahul made his 50th birthday memorable for his father by gifting him a vintage car. On their 25th wedding anniversary, Pramod took Rekha and the children to Paris for a holiday.

Two things about his own childhood, however, haunt Pramod: his father beating him up mercilessly and his being grossly underweight. The first led him to swear that he will never ever lift his hand on his own kids, and the second, to be a fitness freak. He has a gym set up

at home where he religiously spends a minimum two hours daily while flipping TV channels: “A stress reliever,” says Pamiya. That apart, he has a home theatre and over 1,000 DVDs, not to mention the ipod which is his constant companion when he’s travelling.

The only time he actually ‘bunked’ the BJP’s national executive meet was for ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali’s performance in Pune: “I lied… told everyone that I was unwell and had to return to Mumbai.” The bluff paid off and Pramod took the first possible flight to make it for the concert, “Had I not done that, I would have had to go to Pakistan because I had vowed to hear him live before the year was out,” says Pramod while humming Begum Akhtar’s “Mere hamnafas, mere hamnavah mujhe dost ban ke daga na de…”

His other love is horses, and till recently he used to buy steed figures for his living room. To quote him: “It is a perfect animal and I love its shape….”