I went to meet a senior BJP leader, whose name is announced as Uttar Pradesh governor succeeding B L Joshi. Shri Ram Naik who represented North Mumbai Lok Sabha Constituency from Maharashtra as a BJP MP has a track record of getting elected successively for five terms. Earlier, he got elected as an MLA for three consecutive terms from Borivali Assembly Constituency, which is a part of his Parliamentary Constituency. My visit to his office was, as an editor of Afternoon Voice, just to greet and congratulate him for new inclination in his career. The crowd of well-wishers was pouring in to his Goregaon office; there were no place even to stand. Sweets were served at door for each and every one. There were politicians, party workers and also social groups, but more than them, the common public from his constituency were enthusiastic to meet him and wish him. Inspite of the crowd, everyone was treated equally. As usual newly appointed Governor of Uttar Pradesh was sitting in his room and people were meeting him as their turn came. Suddenly, a former minister came out from his cabin and ‘thanked everyone’ for coming there. He replied to all the questions thrown at him by his fans. I think, he did this to save the time of both the side and avoid repetitive questions. As he has to leave for Delhi, he met everyone together.
While he was addressing people, he looked at me and smiled, I was in the crowd. I thought, he was smiling at me because I am a journalist and might be the most known face. My turn came; I went inside the cabin with my team and got amazed, he not only recognised me but recollected all those incidences and memories of my childhood. The entire MSEB colony of Borivali used to campaign for him. I was staying there with my Nana. I was too small to understand elections but during poll time, I also used to join those campaigns. My idea of joining the campaign was to walk around with Ram Naikji. Youth in the locality call him ‘Kaka’ (uncle) while kids address him as Ajoba and he is commonly known as Ram Bhau. He likes to connect with people. There was always warmth in his behaviour and people of his constituency share that typical bond with him. Anyway, I went in and directly said, you forgot me, and he replied, I still recognised you as a girl who used to giggle while campaigning with me. It was a nostalgic moment. Somewhere, the journalist in me had vanished at that particular moment. I greeted him but I was lost in time. He exchanged his number with me and I left the place with a great happiness. He was still the same ‘Kaka’ for me. He is one of the great human beings in Maharashtra politics. He has seen lots of ups and downs in his personal life and as a politician, but always remained down to earth. Anyway, memories have no control and words are too limited to express them.
Recently, people of UP and Bihar were ill-treated in Mumbai. ‘North Indian Mumbaikars’ are happy as their leader is going to their native state from Maharashtra. Many visitors were whispering, “Ram Bhau apne yaha ja rahe hai” (Rambhau is going to our place). There was joy and comfort in their tone. Perhaps, this is the right move by BJP to solace all those UP people here. Even Ram Naik has great challenges in Uttar Pradesh, specially related to law and order issues. Naik is a capable leader with vast political experience. I am damn confident that he will break all the traditional notions about governor’s posts as retirement reward. Raj Bhavans are considered as retirement houses for useless and frail politicians who enjoy their old age at the will of government. According to a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement, Naik will take over in Uttar Pradesh after Joshi, perceived to be a close confidante of the Gandhi family, and was asked to tender his resignation.
Ram Naik was perhaps the only leader, who used to present his annual Performance Report to the voters as people’s representative to uphold the principle of accountability. In the elections for the 13th Lok Sabha, he secured 5,17,941 votes, which were the highest votes secured by an MP in Maharashtra. He generated a new record of getting elected successively eight times from Mumbai. He started his career in the Accountant General’s Office, Mumbai as an Upper Division Clerk. In due course, he rose to higher posts and also worked as a Company Secretary and Management Consultant till 1969. He has been a RSS Swayamsevak from his childhood and has completed two years’ course of RSS training. In college days, while in Pune, he was ‘Mukhya Shikshak’ of Vaidikashram and Balaram Shakhas and in Mumbai, ‘Mukhya Shikshak’ of Azad Maidan Shakha and also Sidharth Nagar, Goregaon Shakha.
He defeated the dreaded disease cancer in 1993. He was part of the central cabinet during the NDA rule and held the Oil and Natural Gas portfolio. He was instrumental in introducing Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme. Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation was formed when he was Minister of State for Railways. Describing his appointment as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh as a “turning point” in his social and political life, Naik Kaka said that he would try to serve as a bridge between the state and the central governments while discharging his duty. There are several issues regarding Uttar Pradesh and it would be a challenging task to work as Governor there. Ram Naik announced in September 2013 that he will not contest the 2014 Lok Sabha Polls thus ending a glorious career in politics. On July 14, 2014, he was named as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. May be, this is reward he deserves for his long services and political potentials.
Today, I am equally happy as I was then when he used to win elections. Thus, I feel proud of being a silly kid who used to campaigns for ‘Kaka’.