Meeting CMs in bedrooms and washrooms

First Print 16 Dec 2018



In my long career as a journalist I have met nearly two dozen chief ministers in various states of the country. But there was no one like Bhairon Singh Shekawat, the former chief minister of Rajasthan.

My first meeting with Shekhawat, who later on became the vice president of India, will remain etched in my memory forever.

It was early 90s. I had landed in Jaipur in connection with a story about the BJP-ruled states in the country. I sought an appointment with the chief minister. I was asked to come at 8.30 to his official residence for the interview and also join him for breakfast.

On the appointed day and time I was outside the CM House in Jaipur’s Civil Lines locality. I was a little apprehensive as my taxi entered its gates.

In my experience, security personnel did not like a vehicle with commercial number plate. But the couple of lazy-looking policemen simply waved the car as I told them that I had an appointment with the CM.

This was the first surprise. I was based at Bhopal, where, as India Today correspondent, I had to deal with Sunderal Patwa as CM. He was a tough nut, not easily accessible even to his own partymen.

Often my requests for appointments materialized long after the concerned story had appeared in the print. Meeting a chief minister was such a hassle — going through elaborate security and a maze of maddening bureaucracy.

As I entered the gates, I found an office complex on the right side. I went looking for a staff member to inform Shekhawat that I had arrived. But it was quite early, I guess and most office rooms were locked.

I spotted a couple of employees in a room and told them about the appointment. They simply asked me to proceed towards the sprawling bungalow.

This was the second surprise. Till now I had not been frisked, I had not been asked for identity papers of any sort, I was not even questioned about whether I really had an appointment with the CM.

As I stood on the deserted veranda of the bungalow, I thought someone would soon take me to Shekhawat. But there was not a soul in sight.

After waiting for a couple of minutes I knocked at the doors of the first room and entered. It turned out to be the drawing room, but totally deserted. I returned to the veranda.

Soon I spotted a busy-looking domestic and he turned out to be well-informed, like most domestics. He directed me towards one of the rooms.

I thought I had been directed towards a visitor’s room where the CM would meet me. But the third, and final surprise of the day, awaited me as I opened its half-ajar doors. Continue reading “Meeting CMs in bedrooms and washrooms”

बेडरूम और बाथरूम में मुख्यमंत्रियों से मुलाक़ात

Prajatantra 16 Dec 2018

Meeting CMs in their bedroom and washrooms


यह किस्सा भैरों बाबा के बारे में है. मतलब अपने भैरों सिंह शेखावत, जो अरसे तक राजस्थान के मुख्य मंत्री रहे और बाद में भारत के उपराष्ट्रपति बने. भाजपा के कद्दावर नेताओं में से एक. उनके जैसे राजनेता बिरले होते हैं.

वे भले भाजपा के नेता थे, पर उनके दोस्त अपनी पार्टी में कम और दूसरी पार्टियों में ज्यादा थे. यारबाज आदमी थे. आम लोगों के लिए सर्व सुलभ. लोगों से उनका जीवंत संपर्क किसी भी जमीनी नेता के लिए रश्क का विषय हो सकता है.

अख़बारनवीसी की अपनी लम्बी पारी के दौरान मैं विभिन्न राज्य के दर्ज़नों मुख्य मंत्रियों से मिल चुका हूँ. पर भैरों बाबा जैसा दूसरा कोई नहीं मिला, कभी भी. उनसे पहली मुलाक़ात हमेशा याद रहेगी. Continue reading “बेडरूम और बाथरूम में मुख्यमंत्रियों से मुलाक़ात”

जब एक जनरल चुनाव लड़ता है

Prajatantra 25 Nov 18

When a General fights an election


छपे हुए प्रोग्राम के मुताबिक़ सुबह ७ बजकर ५५ मिनट पर चित्तौरगढ़ से भाजपा उम्मीदवार जसवंत सिंह का क़ाफ़िला चुनाव प्रचार के लिए रवाना होनेवाला था।

और ठीक 7.55 बजे अपने सुपरिचित सफारी सूट में उम्मीदवार महोदय उस दिन का चुनाव अभियान शुरू करने के लिए चित्तौर के सरकारी सर्किट हाउस में अपने कमरे से बाहर आए।

बरामदे में उस वक़्त हम केवल पांच लोग  थे। मैं था, एक फोटोग्राफर थे, जसवंत सिंह की गाड़ी के ड्राइवर थेऔर चुनाव इंतज़ाम में लगे भाजपा के दो कार्यकर्ता थे।

सिंह ने पूछा, “और लोग कहां हैं?”

“वे आ रहे हैं,” कार्यकर्ता चिंतित नज़र आ रहे थे।

“लेकिन हमें 7.55 पर निकलना था। कोई बात नहीं, हमें निकलना चाहिए। “उम्मीदवार ने कहा।

जसवंत सिंह ने एक चौथाई सदी से भी पहले फ़ौज की नौकरी  छोड़ दी थी.  लेकिन फ़ौज ने उन्हें कभी नहीं छोड़ा। वह अपनी  राजनीतिक लड़ाइयाँ फ़ौजी तरीक़ों से लड़ते थे। Continue reading “जब एक जनरल चुनाव लड़ता है”

Political battle by military man

First Print 25 Nov 18



The days’s programme for Jaswant Singh, the BJP candidate from Chhittorgarh, Rajasthan, began with a numeric ‘0755 hours’.

At the appointed hour Singh, dressed in trademark safari suit, came out of his room at Chittor’s government circuit house to start the days’s election campaign.

In the veranda only five of us were there. Me, a photographer, a driver and two party workers.

“Where are others”, asked Singh.

“They are on their way,” mumbled the embarrassed workers.

“But we were supposed to start at 7.55. Let us go,” said the candidate.

Jaswant Singh, who would later become India’s Defence, Foreign and Finance Minister, had left Army a quarter century ago. But the Army never left him.  He used to fight his political battles with military precision. Continue reading “Political battle by military man”