It was only in keeping with a set pattern that a boy born into a school teacher's family in a drought-affected village of Maharashtra, arrived in Mumbai in search of a job. But Ram Naik was to break out of this mould when he resigned from a secure job in the prime of his youth to work for the Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
He went on to create an unbroken record, winning eight elections consecutively from Mumbai, the financial capital of India. His victory over the dreaded cancer is an incredible feat. As a Member of Parliament and as a Union Minister, Ram Naik has left his distinct imprint. Voluntarily declaring his withdrawal from electoral politics, he has created an ideal. Though eighty two at present, Ram Naik still works twelve hours daily as Governor of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state of India. His life journey is as inspiring as are his numerous achievements.
Ram Naik unfolded his memories through a series of articles in the Marathi daily 'Sake for over a year. This book is a collection of these translated articles.
After a childhood spent in three different accommodations at Atpadi, in Pune I had to repeatedly shift from one place to another, in six-monthly terms, during my four years there because of the paucity of funds and out of compulsion. I had stayed at six different places in Pune, before shifting into Gadimaa's Panchavati bungalow. Furthermore, I shifted my residence to seven places in Mumbai and three in Delhi. Today, I reside at the Raj Bhavan, Lucknow.
In all, I have resided at twenty different places over the past eighty years. Although unstable in terms of shelter, I have remained stable in terms of character - still looking forward and moving ahead. (Page 35)
Life often takes unexpected turns and the direction one has in mind is completely transposed. My life has witnessed many such twists and turns and every bend has posed a new challenge. I have had to face them all and continue to move ahead. (Page 37)
Wishing me a long and healthy life, Atal jee said, "Just consider why you have been brought back from the brink of death. We have dreamt of a glorious Bharat. You have been reborn to fulfill this task." I promised Atal jee that I would spend my bonus life for and only for serving the society. (Page 231)
One of my favorite poems by Atal jee may be translated as, "I am not deterred by defeat, nor elated by victory. Whatever comes my way on the path of duty is right."
I had never imagined that this would resonate within the reality of my own life - that I would ever be defeated. But I had to swallow two election defeats. These unexpected losses were not a deterrent, since I had, entered public life with the firm conviction that the electoral process offered one an effective medium with which to serve the people and I faced this reality with Atal jee's pragmatic words; 'not deterred by defeat'. (Page 305)
For me, the Raj Bhavan has not been a place of rest or retirement. This forty-seven acre landmass has a beautiful garden, numerous trees, a cowshed and tiny farms. The building is about two hundred years old and is a heritage structure. The weather here inspires me to work, so that the reputation of this precinct is enhanced. Every bathroom in Raj Bhavan is larger than my first two-room residence in Mumbai, with the trappings fit for a king. It would not be exaggerating to say that Raj Bhavan is like a palace. But I am unable to relish these luxuries, as I prefer being a commoner, to be among people. (Page 343)
There are some relations that are difficult to describe n a few words. My relation with Shri Ram Naik jee or, Rambhau, as he is widely known, is one such very close and personal relationship. I do not know where to start from. When I think of Ram Naik jee, a number of happy memories come to mind - a friendly and kind 'uncle' with whom I loved spending time during my childhood, a passionate social worker caring for the poor and the needy, a dedicated political leader who cut his teeth on the streets of Mumbai and built the party brick by brick, a no-nonsense Union Minister committed to serving people; and now the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state.
Ram Naik jee belongs to a generation of leaders, who never imagined that the seeds they planted would grow into such a large and vibrant tree. Selflessly, he immersed himself in the noble task of nation-building; blissfully unaware of the pedestals of success he would scale in the years to come. To my mind, Rambhau has truly lived the ideals espoused in the book 'Charaiveti! Charaiveti!!' - 'Marching ahead!' his entire life. A true Nishkaam Karmayogi, he has been associated with the party right from its Jana Sangh days. A doughty fighter known for his upright idealistic nature, he soon made a mark for himself both within the party and with the general public at large.
During the emergency, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Jana Sangh faced the brunt of the Government clampdown. When it was lifted in 1977 and it was certain that there were to be elections, it was decided by the top brass that the Jana Sangh would merge with other opposition parties to form the Janata Party. A meeting of the party was held in Lonavala, a tourist hill spot near Mumbai, where Ram Naik jee played a prominent role being the Organising Secretary of Mumbai Jana Sangh. While returning to Mumbai, he met with a car accident and suffered major injuries to his backbone. He was admitted to Tilak (Sion) hospital, which was near our home. My mother used to send food for him every day, and since those were summer holidays, I often went to deliver it. As a 12-year-old boy, I looked forward to these visits where Ram Naik jee, even in his traction-bed, evidently suffering from immense pain, would be at his jovial best. One day, however, probably due to the intense heat and election-fever at home, and the typical hospital smell, I fainted in the hospital. I woke up lying in the bed next to Rambhau himself, with him concerned for my well being more than for himself. To my -lily's embarrassment, he would berate himself for having to sad my fainting! I must mention here that it is to Ram Naik jee's credit that despite his near-death experience, he would lift the mood of the ward and the patients and staff at the hospital with his humorous demeanour.
It is in those days of political struggle and adversity that an association was forged between Rambhau and my late father, Shri Veda Prakash Goyal. The culture of our party has been of sharing and brotherhood. Their common -Geology, simplicity and ability to endure the toughest of --yes with cheerfulness, endeared them to each other. - 1989, Rambhau led the BJP's rise in Maharashtra and name a Member of Parliament from the North Mumbai: constituency. He was allotted a small bungalow No. 42 at Asoka Road, New Delhi. My father, who was the National --measurer of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and was required to form in Delhi often, was a permanent guest of Shri Ram Naik jee and enjoyed his hospitality every time he visited Delhi. 'Act, this large-hearted man reserved his second bedroom Papa and would ensure his comfort, conveniences and me-cooked delicious vegetarian food.
It was in 1991 that Shri Bhaurao Deoras jee entrusted -e the responsibility to assist the National General Secretary (Organization) of the BJP for managing the Lok Sabha elections from Delhi. I literally took it for granted that Rambhau's residence would be home during this period. do not recall even asking him for his permission to live there! Without any notice, I ensconced myself in his home and commandeered every facility there for myself.
In December 2014, I was approached by a popular Marathi daily, 'Sakai', requesting me to record my recollections in the form of a fortnightly column for its Sunday edition. It was suggested that the compilation may deal with my memories, sweet or bitter, and my experiences of different events and people. I was hesitant about this assignment as I did not consider myself a born writer.
My life's mission has always been, and still is, social work and my entry into electoral politics was a diktat by my party leadership. The only book I had written before this is a slim Marathi publication, 'Gatha Sangharshachee' and its English version ‘The Saga of Struggle', which depicts my struggle to ensure that justice was received by the project-affected persons of the Tarapur Atomic Power Project near Mumbai. All other 'literary' works were confined to the writing about the annual railway budget or regarding a colleague or leader in connection with some particular incident. Moreover, I was not sure as to how readers would receive these memories.
While I remained double minded about accepting this assignment, Shriram Pawar, the Group Editor of the newspaper, assured me that my vast and multi-faceted experiences in the world of politics had much to offer to the readers. He also mentioned that other contributors to the column included Sharad Pawar, Manohar Joshi and Sushilkumar Shinde - all three Maharashtra's former Chief Ministers. In effect, that would make me the odd man out. Besides, I considered that all three were junior to me in age, although they were my political contemporaries. Shriram's conviction about my memoirs' potential and positive impact on the readers prevailed and I decided to go ahead.
By nature, I am reluctant to speak about myself. But when my column began appearing on Sundays, the readers' response was overwhelmingly positive. It encouraged me to write about myself for a whole year. After this, despite Sakal's desire that I should continue, I had to discontinue this assignment, primarily due to the paucity of time. I realised then that even at eighty-two, time is a hard task master and does not provide much respite to me to undertake such assignments.
My reasons for stopping the column was ‘Charaiveti’ -keep working, marching ahead and remain busy. This triple motto has governed my life and I continue to adhere to it.
The Editor of 'Sakal' had required that my columns be an introspection of my journey through life and politics - 7. My resultant metamorphosis. But does a human being metamorphose as a result of a solitary factor? The obvious answer is 'no'. Life has taken me through many twists and turns. Although a middle-class salaried employee, I plunged -time into politics by resigning from my secure job, first with the government and then in the corporate sector. Later in life, cancer mounted an unexpected attack on my which I overcame and have since continued to move forward with my work.
The prime force that sculpted me was my father, secularly known as 'Naik Master'. He died when I was only nineteen and in my final year of B.Com. But I continued to go ahead. Besides my father, those who have guided through difficult situations included some veterans, of leagues, and at times, even the man on the street. In light of this, I decided to depict some of the major events in my life and try to contemplate the future through the various incidents that have impacted my personality.
I began my public life with a resolve to work for the people. I have kept walking on this path despite the obstacles that were strewn along the way. It is true that everyone's life has its own distinct limitations and boundaries. I continued to write my column, though I was aware that a daily newspaper's life span is just for that day. Neither my friends, readers, nor I would have liked this collection to go into oblivion, as most newspaper writings do.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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