This is the inside story of the roaring TIGER who had a bite as also the love in what he said. His attitude was filled with magnanimity of heart and humanness of a loveable Leader. I have known him and worked for him very closely since the Twenties for six years. A stunning Disciplinarian, patience in hearing, the other point of view and discussing Political, Administrative and Military subjects with an extremely sharp interaction with crisp decisions which had to be implemented once cleared.
After retirement in 1987 as the General Officer Commanding Chief of the Western Army when I retired after 40 years of service I got into a position where I could hardly sustain my family consisting of Mother, Wife, my Son, my Daughter-in-law and two Grand Sons, with a meager pension of Rs 2500 a month and a Rs 7 Lac packet as my Provident Fund. I retired with an unblemished record of Service with no Property, no Hearth or Home and was literally on the Streets after having fought all the wars including 1962. I possessed a chest full of Medals and Gallantry decorations but with no place to hang them. I had to work or be on the Streets.
I decided to work to exist and to look after my Parents, Wife and Children. I never blamed the Government for the position I was in, but took Pride in what I had achieved after having served my COUNTRY. I then decided to go to Mumbai and start my own Construction Business, of which I had no clue. I never dreamt that I would get involved with a Personality, such as Sh. Bala Sahib Thakerey. I used to read the local Newspaper’s and the manner in which TIGER used to function and the respect that he had from the People. One Day I decided that I must go and meet this Miracle Man and actually to shake hands with him to Congratulate him for the clear manner in which he enunciated his views through the Press and his Mouth Piece Paper Saamna, which at that time was being looked after by Sanjay Nirupam. I even, not knowing Marathi used to get translated his views and Cartoons and frankly without having met or knowing TIGER I fell in love with him. It was very difficult at that time to get an appointment for an outsider to meet him but I managed to get through to Thapa and Milind, his Personal Aids and insisted that I be given an audience with the TIGER.
I was soon given a time and I met him in his Temporary House (Five Garden) area since Matoshree was then being renovated. I arrived at the given time on dot at the appointed hour. The TIGER walked in and I stood up and Saluted him and he warmly shook my hand. His first question to me was what brings you here?. I shared my background and why I was in Mumbai and told him that I read so much about him and the Bold manner in which he puts across his views and how the People followed him implicitly. I desired that I shake his hand and pay my Regards to a Man who had the Qualities of a Leader in Battle. We chatted for some time and he raptly directed Thapa that whenever I call next I should be given an immediate audience. So impressed was I with his personality that I was humbled and thought that let me try and work for him in order that I learn more in my remaining life for any task that may come my way under his guidance.
Understanding Each Other
After many a meeting in which we had long discussions, we started understanding each other. The first important discussion, we had was about how indifferent was the Centre to the plight of War Widows and no one cares about them? TIGER immediately retorted that this situation was Painful and he himself was critical of the Defence Ministry at the Centre for been insensitive to the families of Ex Servicemen and War Widow’s. I gave an example of the widow of HAVILDAR ABDUL HAMID who had laid down his life for the Country and was awarded the highest award of PARAM VIR CHAKRA and his widow today was literally walking the Streets of Mumbai and could not even make both ends meet. Was this what the Indian Soldier pays or gets rewarded for dying for his Country?
Surprisingly, he was already ceased of the Problem and he immediately recounted his present attempts to get in touch with his dearest friend the Defence Minister Geroge Fernandas and was wanting him to pursue a case of a War Widow who was also entitled to a Petrol Pump which was not materializing. He shared with me that while the Union Minister for Petroleum Ram Naik’s office had issued a typical Sarkari reply to the widow’s application, TIGER said that each time he rang up Fernandas he was told that he had gone to Russia or China or some such place. I suggested to him that why should TIGER not think of opening up a Cell within SHIV SENA which would look after the Widows who are in trouble and do it under his Patronage on an All India Basis?
TIGER immediately accepted my view and issued orders to float a National Trust for the Welfare of Ex. Servicemen and Widows, which read as follows:-
“Lt. Gen PN HOON (RETD) PVSM,AVSM,SM has been Appointed as Director General Nivrutt Jawan Shiv Sena Trust (A Non Political Body)which would Aim to tackle the problems of Ex Serviceman and Former Personnel of all the Uniformed Services and their Relatives”. After discussions he further laid down that Funds for the proposed Trust would be made available and directed me to work out immediately the details of Schemes to be under taken by the Trust and that funds could be raised by organizing Cultural Programs. He further ordered that all Shiv Sena Parmukh’s in Maharastra will immediately organize themselves and ensure comprehensive and concerted welfare for All Families which finally could include even such Services as the Fire Brigade, Police, Railways, Post and Telegraphs and so on, for the People who provided us Good Governance and are stationed in Maharastra. The Principle purpose was to ameliorate the sufferings of Jawans and Officers of the Uniformed Services. He further said that he wanted to stir the conscience of our chosen Representatives in the Parliament on this issue. He added that “Religion and Religiosity” is a private matter. Every Indian is first a Hindustani and then every thing else. He further said that RELIGION cannot be above the NATION. Our Countrymen should also be educated the relevance and significance of “SARE JAHA SE ACHA HINDUSTAN HAMARA” (QUOTING LEGENDARY URDU POET AL-LAMMA-IQBAL).
I came very close to him and I remember that in 2000 when an attempt was made by some miscreants to damage Shiv Sena Bhawan he immediately asked me to acompany him to Shiv Sena Bhawan to asses as to what had happened and to ensure that such types of incidences would not be repeated.
TIGER also began taking me into confidence and we started to discuss serious Political Matters that were affecting good Governance .One such incidence that comes to my mind is when he was unhappy with the NDA Government on the handling of the Kashmir issue. He wanted to pull out of the Government for the weakness being shown by the Centre and inept handling of the Kashmir imbroglio by the NDA Government at the Centre. TIGER was also of the view that Martial Law must be imposed in the strife torn Kashmir which would be the only answer specially due to the killings that were taking place during the Amaranth Pilgrimage.
However after discussions with me, the proposal was dropped and he felt that The Country was at that time passing through one of the most trying times. Any attempt to destabilize the Vajpayee Government would be detrimental to the interests of the Nation. He however made it clear that his Silence must not be construed as Weakness. He said (Quote) I am silent because I am worried about the Country , but at the same time I want to make it clear that I have not cooled down (Unquote).
He was convinced that destabilization of the NDA Government at that stage could effect and become a costly affair. He was aware of the media asking him awkward questions as to why being a part of the ruling NDA Government why could he not bring more pressure on them? His straight reply was (Quote) I am soft on the NDA as the Country needs stability at this point of time and I feel that we must restore the situation in J&K, even if it meant the dismissal of the Chief Minister. (Unquote) As was his manner of dealing with the Press he said that he had only three Shiv Sena Ministers in the Central Cabinet who had been given insignificant portfolios like Heavy Industries, Fertilizers and Chemicals and humorously stated that he wanted a different CHEMICAL!!! and he was not happy with this.
His aim was to critically articulate the grave problems facing the Nation and he had directed me to spread out in North India also , with a membership drive for the Shiv Sena in Jammu and Kahmir, Punjab, Himachal Pardesh, Haryana and Delhi in the Phase 2. He laid down that we should aim at making Members from amongst the Families and Ex Servicemen which would also send a signal to our Serving Soldiers and he stated “We undertake to look after the families of our Soldiers till the men come home from their battle locations” He was passionate to take up the cause of Serving Personnel also as he felt that those posted on the Borders must be kept tension free, to fight each battle in order that they, give their best to the COUNTRY.
TIGERS humorous stories really hits one’s mind. I remember once he said that I never mince my words and he informed the Centre that they should not be talking to Militant Organizations like Laskar-e Toiba and Hizbul Mujahidden in Kashmir. He explained why, and said (Quote) Recently, a friend of mine bought a packet of Cigars from Havana and before returning to India decided to visit America. He was stopped by Custom Officials at Washington who categorically told him that he will have to deposit the Cigars packets but he could pick it up when he was leaving the Country. Everyone knows that Cuba and America were not on friendly terms. So, at NO point does America allow Cuba’s goods to enter the Country. Where as over here, the Infiltrators have entered our House and we are talking to them. What sort of a joke is this on our Security? (Unquote)
On the increasing influx of Foreigners in Mumbai, the Sena Chief categorically said that Bangladeshi infiltrators will not be allowed to determine the fate of the Country. Bangladesh infiltrators at that time were able to procure ration cards at Rs 10000 and get themselves registered as voters, we will not allow this. The right of determining our Country’s fate only belongs to us. (How wise were his words. Today’s problems with our Own Administered States in the North-East are a live example of the words he quoted over 12 years ago).
Implementation of Future Thoughts Political Arena
In the year 2002 TIGER appointed me as the Rajya Sampark Parmukh Uttar Hindustan to look after the States of Himachal Pardesh, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu – Kashmir and U.T Chandigarh and prepare for Elections.
He had specifically directed me to follow his instructions which were “DIVORCING ELECTIONS FROM MONEY WHICH WOULD BE OUR MOTTO” He further advised me that It will be an Election with a Difference. The endeavor is to prove that Elections can be fought without money. “This will be your resolve as Director General, Nivrutt Jawan Shiv Sena Trust and Rajya Sampark Parmukh Uttar Hindustan. In his bid to expand operations in the North, the Shiv Sena decided to also open a North Zone office in Chandigarh.
Initiating itself into the Political Arena in the Region, the Party had fielded two candidates for the Municipal Corporation elections in Chandigarh. Mr Virender Bajaj , Raj Parmukh, Shiv Sena, Chandigarh and Mr Ram Sanjjvan Bairagi who fought from ward No 3 and Mauli Jagran, respectively. “It is a common practice among local Politicians to bribe voters with money, alcohol, blankets,etc but we were to change this trend forever. We did not offer such goodies and we never let it happen either. I had so strategically placed my men, as to ensure that such malpractices do not take place. Instructions had been given that in case anyone is found distributing freebies, I should be informed immediately. I will then take up the matter with the Election Commission. Such was his mind set which no one could change.
Mr Ram Singh, a resident of Mauli Jagran, said, “We are living in inhuman conditions. In every Election we are Promised things which till date have not been delivered. We have resolved not to succumb to any attractive offers this time round. We want things to improve for good”. According to Mr Singh, residents of his Colony were offered Rs 100 per vote in the Elections. “I took it that even if we were to lose in this endeavor of a free and fair Election, we would consider it as losing a Battle and not a War! The War would continue but if we win these elections then we will set an example that doling out money is not necessary for winning elections, It was the work that the elected Candidates had to put in to take care of the AAM ADAMI. Our candidate was defeated in Mouli Jagran who lost by a very thin margin and we were Second.
Talking about why the Shiv Sena decided to show its presence in the North, was that Shiv Sena was a Regional Party and today, Regional parties are instrumental in deciding the fate of the Country on the National Political scene. Time had come for the Regional Parties to have a National Visibility. Shiv Sena at that juncture had 18 MP’s in Parliament. Shiv Sena by no standards, was to remain a Party which was Region – Centric.
Responding to the Media as to how the People which see the Party to be Pro – Hindu, will get any votes. Bala Sahib Thackeray was a very misunderstood man. It is time that this misconception was done away with. One of the reasons why Shiv Sena was not been able to improve this negative image is that we had till date not stepped out of Maharastra. Other Parties and Organizations had taken advantage of this. Some working Organizations who claimed to be from the Original Shiv Sena had no connections with the Party.
It was also clarified by TIGER that ‘Hindutva’, was not a rule by Hindus but Hindutva meant, that it is a way of life which is linked for Centuries that teaches us the moral values of yester years.
“Bala Sahib has always said that it is important to be a, ‘Hindustani’ before being a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christan. You will be surprised to know that Muslims in Maharastra felt very safe when there was a BJP – Shiv Sena Government. TIGER was never Anti – Muslim or Pro Hindu. He was ANTI ANYONE WHO HURT THE NATIONAL PRIDE OF OUR COUNTRY.
TIGER was an epitone of All the Quailties one can humanly possess. No one in the World can achive this level. A Listner with Patience – even when he knew the Subject being discussed – A Person who could analyse the problem and the Subject Even while the other Person was speaking. He was ready to discuss and than give his point of view. Once he was sure – he would give his final decision.
TIGER was scrupulously HONEST and hated lies- His orders were clear – No ties attached. He Worked hard for the People and did not mince his words. His Personality was such that the JANTA followed him. He was loved by all but Dreaded by POLITICIANS, who did not understand him. Loved by Children he became a Child himself amongst them. A MAN who knew what he wanted and how to achieve it. He was for HINDUSTAN itself and dreamt to get all Humanity together irrespective of Religion, Cast, or Creed.
He was never ANTI-MUSLIM. He was ever ready to serve across the Board – but could NOT tolerate anybody who was not true to the COUNTRY.
I had once asked him if someone could differentiate People from different Religions – He said NO. He then cited the case of HAV ABDUL HAMID, PARAM VIR CHAKRA (a Muslim Soldier who died fighting for his Country) and I asked him was he not a Muslim. He curtly replied and said may he belong to any Religion but first he was a HINDUSTANI.COUNTRY First RELIGION Later. A Great Man indeed. He loved his Cigars which he himself cut and readied for a quiet smoke.
I SALUTE HIM ONCE AGAIN AS I SIGN OFF MY THOUGHTS