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Soap operatic

Madan Lal Khurana may be out in the cold vis-a-vis the BJP, but he practises what the RSS?s Rajju Bhaiyya (Rajendra Singh) and the Congress?s Jawaharlal Nehru taught him.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2006 00:16 IST

Madan Lal Khurana may be out in the cold vis-a-vis the BJP, but he practises what the RSS’s Rajju Bhaiyya (Rajendra Singh) and the Congress’s Jawaharlal Nehru taught him. The former’s lessons were about being ‘swadeshi’, while the latter tutored him in ‘tehzeeb’. Consequently, Khurana shuns neck-ties and always walks his guests to the door.

Bidding adieu to the neck-tie has its genesis in Khurana’s photograph being published in newspapers following his election as an office-bearer of the Allahabad University. When Rajju Bhaiyya summoned him, he thought the late RSS chief was going to congratulate him. Instead he was severely censured: “A Vidyarthi Parishad member in a tie! Shame on you.” That day Khurana parted with his entire collection: “I was very fond of ties and spent all my money buying them.” He also changed his attire from a collared shirt (‘bushshirt’, according to him) to a fully-buttoned ‘safari suit’ that hides half his neck and the gold chain he wears.

Rajju Bhaiyya also chided him for sending college function invitation letters in English. When Khurana pleaded helplessness on grounds that both the typewriter and typist were ‘English’, he was told that nothing prevented him from signing in Hindi. That he still retains his collection of pens, all imported, is perhaps because this escaped the attention of his swadeshi netas. A proud owner of a 150-odd pens, the ‘outdated’ Parker remains Khurana’s favourite.

Nehru, he says, taught him Hindustani tehzeeb. At the end of his first visit, when Nehru walked Khurana to the door, he said: “I’m not seeing you off but telling you what tehzeeb is: always walk your guest to the door” — something that Khurana religiously follows. Mention his tenure as Delhi’s CM and Khurana quotes Khushwant Singh and Rajesh Khanna, both Congress loyalists, lauding his ‘good work’. Mention his own partymen and he feels a man betrayed because politically, friends have turned foes.

Khurana recalls how Sardare, a party worker, had requested that his son be allowed to run a tea shop from the state unit’s party office in Delhi. Khurana, then very influential, made it happen. Six months ago, Sardare’s son was asked to pack up. Now there is a new chaiwallah backed by the present power managers.

Khurana also rewinds to days when he had helped a woman colleague win an election in Delhi only to be ‘stabbed in the back’ by her later. He also recalls a party ‘top shot’ who managed a backdoor entry as a ‘sarkari vakil’ when Khurana was Delhi’s executive councillor. A ‘sentimental man’, as Khurana describes himself, the party is surrounded by opportunists who have turned it into “a private limited company”.

Born to a father who traded soap, Khurana had promised a Jain muni that he will remain vegetarian and a teetotaller. But when a friend tempted him with a cigarette he gave in: “My friend said that if I smoke he will foot the dinner bill.” Had Khurana not joined politics, the only thing he could have done was ‘sell soap’, he says.