India bids farewell to Mahajan

via PTI published on May 4, 2006

Thousands of mourners bid a tearful adieu today to one of the country’s promising politicians and BJP’s master strategist Pramod Mahajan, who was cremated in Mumbai with full state honours in the presence of a galaxy of dignitaries led by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Slogans such as ‘Pramod Mahajan amar rahe’ (Long live Mahajan) and ‘Jab tak sooraj chand rahega, Mahajan tera naam rahega’ rent the air as the mortal remains of the 57-year old ‘Gen Next’ leader of the Opposition BJP was consigned to flames at the Shivaji Park cremation grounds.

The former Union minister’s son Rahul lit the funeral pyre amidst chanting of Vedic hymns. The buglers sounded the last post and the Maharashtra police personnel reversed their arms and fired in the air as a mark of respect to the leader, who died yesterday at the Hinduja Hospital after battling for life for 12 days. He had been shot thrice by his younger brother Pravin on April 22.

Rahul hugged and consoled his sister Poonam as Mahajan’s mortal remains went up in flames. Mahajan’s brother Prakash, brother-in-law Gopinath Munde and close associate Sudhanshu Mittal broke down and were comforted by party leaders and workers.

Present at the cremation grounds to pay homage to the departed soul were Vice-President Shekhawat and a shocked BJP top brass led by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and leaders of Opposition L K Advani and Jaswant Singh.

The government of India was represented by Home Minister Shivraj Patil.

Congress leader Motilal Vora, Union Minister Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel, RSS chief K S Sudarshan, VHP firebrand leader Praveen Togadia, NDA convener George Fernandes, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and chief ministers of all BJP-ruled states including Gujarat’s Narendra Modi and Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray were present, reflecting the late leader’s popularity across the country’s political spectrum.

A wreath on behalf of President Abdul Kalam was placed on the casket containing Mahajan’s body. Other leaders too offered floral tributes.

While Mahajan’s younger brother, Pravin, who shot him is in jail, his (Pravin’s) wife and their children kept away from the cremation.

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