Born On: October 30, 1949
Born In: Mahabubnagar, Andhra Pradesh
Died On: May 3, 2006
Career: Political Leader
Controversies and allegations seemed to be a significant part of his life. Pramod Mahajan was one of the most successful and powerful leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who was responsible for its tremendous success and growth. Despite having no grassroot connection or political base, Mahajan managed to etch an individual personality and image of himself not only in state politics, but across the nation. Right from supporting the Rath Yatra for Lal Krishna Advani in 1990 to being pitchforked for Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, Mahajan rose to become a central figure in the Indian politics. He was a fine orator and read his audience very well, thereby grabbing the attention of the masses, particularly the youth. Apart from being a fine political manager, his extensive use of electronic campaigning through SMSes, pollsters, and taped phone calls forced his party rivals to imitate him to a great extent.
Pramod Mahajan was born in a Deshastha Rigvedi Brahmin family in Mahabubnagar in Andhra Pradesh. Born to Venkatesh Devidas Mahajan and Prabhavati Venkatesh Mahajan, he was the second child amongst five children born to the couple. He had two brothers, Prakash and Pravin, and two sisters Pratibha and Pradnya. The family moved from Osmanabad to Ambajogai in a rented flat in Mangalwar Peth. Pramod Mahajan lost his father when he was just 21 years old. He completed his formal education from Yogeshwari Vidyalaya and Mahavidyalaya in Beed district of Maharashtra state. He later took admission in Ranade Institute of Journalism, Pune where he obtained his bachelor's degree in physics and journalism. He attained a post graduate degree in political science from the same college. Pramod Mahajan started his career as an English teacher at Koleshwar College in Ambajogai from 1971 to 1974, after which he joined politics on the wake of the Emergency Period.
Entry into Politics
Since childhood, Pramod Mahajan was a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). However, he took active participation only when he started working as a sub-editor in the party's Marathi magazine, "Tarun Bharat", in the years 1970 and 1971. He stood against the emergency period declared by the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was imprisoned in Nasik jail until the state of emergency was lifted. When Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was formed in 1980, he was one of selected RSS members who were absorbed into BJP. Pramod Mahajan served as the general secretary of BJP state until 1985. In between, he became the All India Secretary of BJP from 1983 to 1985. He fought for Lok Sabha elections in 1984 but failed. Thereafter, he was selected as the president of All India Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in 1986. He served this position on another occasions from 1990 to 1992. It was due to his determination, hard work, and consistency that he was raised from state (Maharashtra politics) to national level.
Mahajan was always keen on ruling the political world at a national level. However, he did not ignore his home state and made significant efforts in improving the party's fortune in Maharashtra. To help him out, his childhood friend-turned brother-in-law Gopinath Munde (married to sister Pradnya) partnered with him. With this, Pramod Mahajan was alleged to maintain and begin relations with Shiv Sena that went ahead with fighting in state assembly elections in 1995. The party won the elections and ruled till 1999. Though both BJP and RSS were reluctant in joining hands with Shiv Sena, Mahajan continued to support the party on the belief that the tie-up was only for political purposes and had nothing to do with the extremist beliefs of Shiv Sena. However, in recent times, Shiv Sena has been suffering from a decline in their fortunes. Mahajan was believed to have alerted the party before he broke off with Shiv Sena, simply because he wanted BJP to gain more power and rule the state.
Mahajan's rule was not confined to state politics. In the late 1980s, he gained national recognition when he helped BJP President Lal Krishna Advani in organizing a Rath Yatra in 1990. He was touted to be one of the most responsible persons for helping his party members win elections, though he himself rarely contested or won. He fought for Rajya Sabha and elected to the Parliament through several elections in 1986-92, 1992-96, 1998-2004, and 2004. Though he was even elected to Lok Sabha in 1996, but lost when he stood for the second time in 1998.
With the Lok Sabha elections in 1996, BJP started coming to power and ruling the political world. With this, Mahajan was appointed as Defense Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee ministry that lasted for just 13 days. Back in power with the 1998 elections, Mahajan was selected as advisor to the Prime Minister, but he resigned from his post to stand for Rajya Sabha elections in 1998. On winning, Pramod Mahajan was chosen as the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, and Food Processing in December 1998. Later in October 1999, he was transferred to Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources. However, just a month later, he resigned from Water Resources and took up Information Technology, along with Parliamentary Affairs. In 2001, he was appointed into the Communications ministry, an industry already undergoing several controversies. According to the telecom policy formulated in 1994, the telecom companies were allowed to participate in cellular telephony after open bidding, on the payment of a certain amount of fees. However, most companies failed to pay the fees and the then Communications Minister, Jagmohan tried taking strict action against them. But he was sacked.
The, then, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took charge of the ministry and managed the New Telecom Policy, 1999 himself. His moves were highly criticized for changing the rules midway and bringing about heavy losses to the government. But when Mahajan took charge in 2001, he implemented the policy perfectly that brought about huge profits to the industry, thus generating exceptional growth. But that was not all for Mahajan as he was faced with a dispute from Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie on the privatization of VSNL. As such, he was dropped out of the cabinet in 2003 and was succeeded by Shourie. Thereafter, Mahajan was appointed as the General Secretary of BJP. Mahajan won the assembly elections in 2003 and was appointed in charge of Rajasthan. Interestingly, out of the four states where the elections took place, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, BJP won in three states. Impressed by his marvelous performance in the elections, Mahajan was given the responsibility of holding the election campaign in 2004. However, BJP performed terribly ill and lost power to Indian National Congress.
Pramod Mahajan was faced with numerous controversial circumstances during his life and after his death as well. The first being the Indian Express journalist Shivani Bhatnagar murder case where he was linked with the accused Ravi Kant Sharma. Sharma was an IPS officer and was arrested by the police on charges of murdering Bhatnagar. But his wife, Madhu Sharma claimed that Bhatnagar's murder was planned by Mahajan and even alleged him of being the real father of Bhatnagar's child that was otherwise charged to Sharma. Mahajan was then accused of supporting Reliance Infocomm for spreading its mobility throughout India through WLL without paying the requisite license fees. In 2002, Reliance Infocomm offered one crore shares to three companies, namely, Prerna Auto, Fairever Traders, and Softnet, all of them being owned by Ashish Deora, business partner of Rahul Mahajan, son of Pramod Mahajan. These shares were offered at a mere amount of Re. 1 per share. As if these were not enough, his death too became a controversial affair and came as a major shock not only for the party but also for the Mahajan family. Younger brother, Pravin who was charged with shooting Pramod, surrendered at Worli Police Station in Mumbai after the entire incident. The reason given was Pramod's ignorance towards his young brother and constant humiliation. Feeling neglected, Pravin Mahajan started suffering from inferiority complex. Despite his continuous statements of not shooting his brother, the court sentenced him to life imprisonment on December 18, 2007. However, he passed away on March 3, 2010 following a brain hemorrhage.
Pramod Mahajan showed immense interest in acting which landed him in theatre, wherein he met the love of his life, Rekha Hamine. He courted her and finally tied the nuptial know on March 11, 1972. The couple had two children, Poonam and Rahul, both trained pilots. His daughter, Poonam is married to Anand Rao Vajendla, an industrialist from Hyderabad.
Following a continuous dispute at home, younger brother Pravin fired four bullets on Pramod with his licensed .32 Browning pistol in Pramod's apartment on the morning of April 22, 2006. Though the first bullet missed Pramod, the other three hit him in his liver and pancreas. He was taken to Hinduja Hospital and operated on emergency basis. After battling for survival for 12 days in the hospital, Pramod suffered a cardiac arrest and succumbed to his injuries on May 3, 2006. He was cremated with full honor in Shivaji Park crematorium in Dadar, Mumbai on May 4. His ashes were immersed in holy rivers, Ganga, Brahmaputra, and Godavari, across India. Mahajan's death proved to be a major blow to the party that was overthrown from power in 2004 general elections.
1949: Born on October 30 in Mahabubnagar, Andhra Pradesh
1970-71: Worked as sub-editor of Marathi magazine, Tarun Bharat
1971-74: Worked as English teacher at Kholeshwar College, Ambajogai
1972: Married Rekha Hamine on March 11
1983-85: Served as All India Secretary of BJP
1986: Became President of All India Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha
1986-92: Served in Rajya Sabha
1990: Helped in organizing Lal Krishna Advani's Rath Yatra
1992-96: Elected again for Rajya Sabha
1996: Elected to Lok Sabha and appointed as Defense Minister
1998: Fought for Lok Sabha but lost
1998: Appointed as advisor to Prime Minister
1998: Resigned from advisor post in July and fought for Rajya Sabha. He won
1998: Appointed as Minister for Information and Broadcasting, and Food Processing in December
1999: Moved to Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources in October
1999: Transferred to Parliamentary Affairs and Information Technology in November
2001: Appointed in Communications Ministry
2003: Relieved of his cabinet duties and made in charge of BJP's election campaign for assebly elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Delhi
2004: Elected to Rajya Sabha for the last time
2006: Shot by brother Pravin on April 22
2006: Died on May 3 in Mumbai, aged 56