From a tweet of senior journalist Sheela Bhatta, I came to know that Arvind Bosamia is no more. Next, I came across another tweet of senior journalist Ashok Malik quoting Bhatt and paying homage to him. Bhatta and Malik are famous names in the media circles of New Delhi and they were remembering a journalist who was never based out of the national capital.
Bosamia breathed his last in Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad where he was staying in a small room attached to a temple. None from Bosamia’s family could attend his funeral. His sister stays in Rajkot and most of his other relatives are settled abroad. So those people who loved him, lit his pyre. These were the people whom Bosamia had taught about Hinduism.
Today, one can find thousands of people in media and outside media who can speak on issues like Hindutva, nationalism, jihadi terrorism. But this was not the case two decades back. In the whole country, there were only a handful of people like Bosamia whose knowledge of Hindutva was not shallow and confined to merely ‘Jai Shri Ram’ but was an ocean of knowledge.
In many respects, his knowledge was encyclopaedic and from Swapan Dasgupta to Ashok Malik and Ram Madhav, all were aware of this. Bosamia was called many times in the annual conference held in the direction of the RSS and people listened to him with rapt attention.
Former Finance Minister late Arun Jaitley was one such person who had great respect for Bosamia and his knowledge. In 2002 when Assembly elections were held in Gujarat, Jaitley spent considerable time in Gujarat as he was in charge of the election campaign there. At that time, he used to meet Bosamia frequently and consulted him when he had doubts about something and every time he was left impressed.
Before the 2002 elections, the campaign material was to be prepared for the Gaurav Yatra in Gujarat. One episode about that time is told with great relish. It was the high time of Atal-Advani and it was routine to have photos of these two leaders on these posters and banners. At that time, Modi was at the peak of his popularity, even though the media and the opposition was attacking him incessantly. At that time three posters were prepared as an alternative. One poster had a photo of only Modi, the second had photos of both Modi and Lal Krishna Advani. Advani at that time was the Home Minister in the cabinet of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and an MP from Gandhinagar. The third poster had the photo of all the three leaders.
Jaitley consulted Bosamia on this issue who said without wasting a second that Narendra Modi is the engine of this election campaign and if you attach more bogies behind him, it will reduce his speed and your seat too will be reduced in proportion. So it is better to use the poste which has only Modi’s photo on it. Jaitley liked his reasoning and all the strategy was made by keeping Modi in the centre. Today it may seem common to Modi in the centre of the campaign. But at that time it was unthinkable. Modi was not that big a leader at that time neither Atal and Advani had their Suns setting. After this, every election in Gujarat was fought by keeping Modi in the centre and not only the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and 2019, but many assembly elections are being fought by keeping Modi in the centre.
Bosamia remained in the good book of Jaitley and that is why he used to call him Guruji who was himself greatly knowledgeable. His grip on communication and media was so strong that people used to call him informal bureau chief of Delhi in jest. He was very much liked by the journalists and everything which he uttered made news. But Jaitley used to hear Bosamia with the same intent when he was in Ahmedabad and had the opportunity to talk to him.
Arun Jaitley had offered to provide him a car with a driver considering he lived like a poor. Jaitley was famous for this and hundreds of journalists will thank him for this. But a proud Bosamia did not like this and flatly refused and said in his face that he does not wish to accept these and become a slave of him for the rest of his life.
Arvind Bosamia was like this!
I met Bosamia around 21 years back when I was in Gujarat in 1999. A cycle riding Bosamiaused to wear black goggles with unkempt hair and moustache wrapped in loose while clothes. He was not at all attractive at first sight and it was difficult to bear his sharp tongue. That is why, not many leaders liked him as he did not mince his words ever and did not spare anybody. Many big leaders were scared of him and his knowledge.
He was dry, honest and spent his whole life on bicycle. He never purchased his own house but never lost the appetite of reading. His jhola (sling bag) always contained one or other book along with a notebook. He used to read everything. He was an authority on jehadi terrorism, national problems and their challenges, Hindutva and the intricacies of the rightist politics. That is why journalist coming from Delhi to Ahmedabad used to get closer to him to learn about all these issues while on the other hand officials from RAW and Military Intelligence also yearned to remain in contact with him so that they could know a thing or two about the Islamic terrorism from him. At that time there were not many James Bond like people who knew about these issues in Delhi.
Bosamia’s whole life was wobbly. Many people closer to him did not know that the person who speaks so much about nationalism held a British Passport. This too is an interesting story. Arvind Bosamia who hails from Kutch, was actually born in East Africa at a time when this area was still a British colony. That is why he had a British Passport. Born on 5 August 1950, he studied there till class seven and later when the country was in turmoil, he was sent to Rajkot with his brothers. Here he got educated in Rajkumar College where only sons of kings used to study during the British period. But Bosamia was far away from any such trappings and led a simple life.
After completing his school education, Bosamia entered St Javier’s college in Ahmedabad. At that time Parbin Bobby also came to study there who was actually connected with the family of the Nawab of Junagarh and who later became a famous film actress. Bosamia had nothing to do with the filmdom and his association with the film world was confined to only talking to Divya Bharati for hours while sitting in the office of the Society magazine. Like Parvin Bobby, Bosamia also did not marry although Parvin Bobby was close to many people. It was difficult to think he had any connection with beauties as he was intolerably sharp with his tongue which made it difficult for anyone to have any long term relationship with him.
Bosamia rude nature was legendary. After finishing his college he went to England to earn his livelihood. He got a job in Alfa Romeo company which was famous in those days. One day he was talking to his manager, an Englishman who said to him that you Indians do not like to stick to your roots. This made him extremely angry. He replied that we Indians are searching our roots in our thousand year old Vedas, considered the oldest scriptures of the world while you British, leave aside your root, are busy only deciding about the root of your dogs. As per British standard, Bosamia’s reply was racist but instead of bending before them he resigned and returned to India in 1977-78, after two years in Britain.
Upon returning to India, Bosamia picked up a job in the Income Tax department as an inspector. He was undergoing training in the then Bombay (now Mumbai) and he used to tour a lot. It was in his nature to tell anything in detail. The area of Kamathipura is also known as Falkland Road but only Bosamia had this information.
He could not stay longer in the Income Tax department as he found the corruption deep rooted there and it was not possible for him to bear it. So he quit his job.
After this, Bosamia started his career in journalism. In 1980 he joined the Indian Express and was here for five years. After that, he joined Blitz and then started working as a freelancer which continued till the end. He used to write well-researched articles. With is detailed study and his talks with people in different walks of life, Bosamia had concluded that homosexuality is common in animals also, particularly in donkeys.
Bosamia could earn only enough to keep the wolf away from his door. His lodging needs were taken care of by one of his fans, Dr. Rakesh Bhandari. Later, when there was feud in the Bhandari family, Bosamia had to leave this place and he stayed with his sister in Rajkot and he spent his remaining years in a room attached with a temple in Ahmedabad where breathed his last today.
Some time back he was talking to a senior journalist of Ahmedabad, Virendra Pundit and he expressed his wish to get his Indian Passport. Bosamia had probably in his mind that without an Indian Passport you cannot practice journalism in India, according to new laws. But before this could happen, he left the world.
Senior journalist and now Central Information Commissioner, Uday Mahurkar was also very close to him. But they could not be together for long due to the sharp tongue Bosamia had. Once a journalist took him to meet his editor who asked his advice for his newspaper. Bosamia looked at his journalist friend and said that till you have a journalist as docile as this gentleman, your newspaper cannot acquire a sharp tone. He was like that. Even PM Narendra Modi acknowledged his knowledge. But it was difficult for anybody to bear him. Those who understood him, remained closed to him and were present at his funeral today. This too at a time when today all those journalists sitting in Delhi are talking about Bosamia who have been benefitting all these while with his knowledge.