Mumbai, April 22: Recluse, affable, jovial, mentally ill ' many a label was affixed to Praveen Mahajan between this morning and evening. But neither family members nor friends could crack the mystery of why he would pump bullets into his “godfather-like” brother Pramod Mahajan.
Joint commissioner of police Arup Patnaik described the attack as “premeditated” and police commissioner Anami Roy said Praveen showed no signs of being insane or mentally ill.
Roy’s statement came after Praveen’s lawyer told reporters he was suffering from depression, citing “insanity defence”.
A BJP veteran said he “couldn’t believe Praveen would shoot Pramod. “Because after they lost their father, it was Pramod who had looked after his siblings, and he has helped his brothers and the family at every stage,” he added.
Belonging to a middle-class family of modest means, Pramod is the eldest of the five children of Prabhavati and Venkatesh Mahajan. Though Pramod was born in Mehboobnagar in Hyderabad in 1949, the family hailed from Ambejogai, a temple town in Beed district of Maharashtra.
After his father’s death in 1971, Pramod took up a job in an RSS-run school to run the family, including his four siblings Prakash, sisters Pradnya and Pratibha and Praveen, the youngest. Pramod was 21 then, and Praveen 10.
Influenced by Jayaprakash Narayan’s Total Revolution movement, Pramod quit the teacher’s job and plunged into politics, joining the Jan Sangh.
As Pramod rose rapidly through the ranks and moved to Mumbai, he helped educate his siblings.
After Praveen completed his BSc, Pramod got him married to Sarangi, a girl from Nagpur, and helped him settle down in Thane.
In the mid-1990s, Pramod helped him purchase a flat in the Naupada area of Thane, where Praveen stayed with his wife and two children.
| Praveen Mahajan
Pramod’s other brother Prakash is based in Aurangabad and recently joined Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. His sister Pradnya is married to Pramod’s close friend and protege, Gopinath Munde, while his other sister Pratibha is based in Ambejogai.
As Pramod moved to national politics and handled several key portfolios, Praveen also prospered through his brother’s contacts.
BJP insiders said Praveen bagged the contract for constructing Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s house at Khopoli, a hill station near Mumbai. He had also undertaken some housing projects in Thane, Mumbai’s satellite suburb now witnessing a construction boom.
“He was affable, jovial and did not seem like a person capable of this kind of extreme rage. He also had high praise for his brother’s political achievements,” said a friend of Praveen who accompanied him to an infotech conference in Germany a few years ago. Praveen travelled as a delegate during Pramod’s controversial stint as information technology minister.
Pramod’s Aurangabad-based brother Prakash and Latur-based maternal uncle Vibhakar Mirajkar denied that property dispute could be behind the attack. “Pramod helped Praveen in several ways and we are at a loss to understand what led him to take such a step,” Mirajkar told PTI.
But Mirajkar said Praveen remained aloof from the rest of the Mahajan family.