Kamalnayan Bajaj - page 90

KamalnayanBajaj –Architect of theBajajGroup
On theCampaignTrail
Iwas 19 years old. The 1st LokSabha’s termwas
coming to an end. Elections for the 2ndLokSabha
were scheduled fromFebruary 24th toMarch 14, 1957.
Kakaji contested fromWardha, a rural constituency, on
an IndianNational Congress (INC) ticket. Campaigning
in 1957was nowhere likewhat it is now. Themoney
spent was insignificant compared to the crores spent on
a single parliament seat now. It was a great learning
experience forme.Under Jawaharlal Nehru’s
leadership, the INC easilywon a second term inpower,
taking 371 of the 494 seatswith a vote share of 47.8%.
Kakaji contested four LokSabha elections fromWardha
between 1957-1971. I campaigned for him in all the
four elections. Each time,Kakaji asked a few of his close
associates to letme accompany them for about two
weeks. The personwithwhom I travelledwould typically
know a fewpeople in the townswe visited. Politeness
dictatedwe be offered cups of sugary teawhich frankly I
foundquite tasty! SometimesKakaji woulddiscusswith
mewhat happenedduring the day – thiswas hisway of
People fromhis constituency sometimes came home to
meetKakaji whenhewas inWardha topetitionhim to
help them in government-relatedmatters. I remember
an occasionwhenKakaji found a request not justified.
Instead of being placatory andmurmuringwords to
the effect “Iwill seewhat canbe done”, he point blank
told the persons concerned that their request was not
justified, andhewill not be able tohelp them.He always
went straight to the heart of amatter andpreferredplain
speaking above all!
In 1969 theCongress split intoCongress (I) and
Congress (O).Kakaji stayedwithCongress (O) even
thoughCongress (I) was ledbySmt IndiraGandhi and
was the larger faction.Kakaji, however, didnot agree
withmany of her policies, including the nationalisation
of banks.Kakaji stayedwithMr.MorarjiDesai’s
Congress (O). This annoyed Indiraji who, I believe,
wondered aloudhow Jamnalalji’s son could go against
Jawaharlalji’s daughter! After all Jawaharlalji and
Jamnalalji were like brothers. Incidentally, bothwere
born in 1889. In fact, it was Jawaharlalji who gaveme
my nameRahul, but that is another story.
Kakaji spoke tome frankly after theCongress split.
Because of his decision to staywithCongress (O), he
explained, it was possible thatCongress (I)may not
cooperatewith the companies in theBajajGroup.We
may not get expansions, etc.He askedmewhether he
should resign as theChairman andDirector of our
companies to insulate the group from the possiblewrath
of the government. I straightaway toldhim that this is
out of the question andwe are not going to succumb to
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