With the demise of Chandra Shekharji, one of the tallest figures in our public life is no more. We fondly remember him as a Young Turk and the courageous stands he used to take. In fact, he was known for his courage of conviction and frank talk. He always had a charisma about him and had his own stamp and identity. His Bharat Yatra had a big impact on all of us who belonged to that generation. He was someone who knew how to connect with people and take up their causes.
As a parliamentarian, his merit was recognised by all: he was one of the best parliamentarians. There was a certain warmth about his persona-lity—one felt comforted when you were around him and, therefore, he had a large circle of friends. He was always loyal to his friends and stood up for them whenever the occasion came—inside and outside Parliament.
Many a time, he had been alone in Parliament and outside, but he didn’t care—numbers didn’t make an impression on him. There was always a legend about him, even though he is no more with us.
I had very close personal contact with him since the University. He was senior to me and was a friend of my elder brother. Since those days I have had a very high regard towards him as I felt towards my elder brother.
I had differences with him, but for several years now, had come close to him. I also consulted him. He fought his disease valiantly, as valiantly as he faced life.
He had deep insight into political processes. On many occasions what he had said would take place, did come true. It was 1988 or 1989—before the Janata Dal was formed, when I was just trying to form the party, that I had gone to him, saying he should join it. He was hesitant, but joined. He said—exactly like this—”Write it in your diary, that Devi Lal is the biggest factor in forming the Janata Dal, but he will be the biggest factor in disintegrating it.”
He had warned me about several contradictions in the Janata Dal before it was formed. He said there were, contradictions between “Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ajit Singh” between “Ajit Singh and Devi Lal”—he went through the whole list and said: “First remove the contradictions then form the party later.”
My argument was: you could never get started this way, and we should first bring them together through the momentum of people’s feelings and then we will bring them together. He had deep insight into Indian politics. I met him a few times after he was taken ill, and met him last a little before his demise.
(As told to Seema Chishti)
(Courtesy: The Indian Express)