In life, they called him a 'fixer'.
In death, he is a networker.
In life, they called him a manipulator.
In death, he is a master strategist.
In life, the focus was on his lavish lifestyle.
In death, it's on his humble roots.
I never knew much about the man called Pramod Mahajan while he was alive. But from all that I have seen and heard in the last 12 days, he seems to be a politician with a difference.
And here are a few things that struck me in particular.
From an Indian Express report:
Mahajan's Pune moorings began at the University of Pune's Department of Communication and Journalism from where he graduated in 1971. Faculty member Prasannakumar Aklujkar remembers Mahajan was the first student of the department to attend a course conducted in English and answer his exam papers in Marathi.
And yet he got a first class.
Classmate Sudha Godbole says that as a student Pramod performed very well in essay writing competitions but was always in the background because of his shy demeanour.
"Which is why all of us were extremely surprised when Mahajan became the fiery speaker and aggressive leader he now is".
Hard to believe, isn't it? This simply shows that 'leadership' is a skill which can be cultivated - if you have the right attitude.
Another classmate recalls: "Pramod was always shy and not very articulate. But he read a lot, passionately absorbing Sartre and others... "
Clearly, he was a man who believed in absorbing as much as possible from any and every source. As a young man, Mahajan was impressed by the oratory skills of Atal Behari Vajpayee. But he did not remain merely an admirer, he made it a personal goal to become a powerful speaker himself.
The capacity to keep learning and growing is a very fine quality. And one rarely found among our fossilised politicians.
For all these reasons - and of course the bizarre circumstances of his shooting - like millions of other Indians, I felt sad on hearing of Pramod Mahajan's demise.
I'd rather not comment on his politics or his legacy - there are people far more knowledgable than me to do that. No doubt he was a politician - not a modern day saint.
All I can say is, it is admirable that Mahajan reached this stature purely on the basis of his personal talent. Even in the dirty world of politics, there appears to be something called 'merit' at work.
And that, is a comforting thought.