NEW DELHI: Journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik, who has courted controversy by recently meeting the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack Hafeez Saeed, is a political analyst, activist and a journalist known to be close to Yoga guru Baba Ramdev and also to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Born on December 30, 1944 in Indore, Vaidik is not new to controversies. He was once expelled from the Indian School of International Studies where he studied as a PhD student because he insisted on writing his thesis in his mother tongue, Hindi.
According to his website, the incident evoked a heated debate in Parliament in 1966-67 which led to all Indian languages being permitted as a medium of expression at the highest academic level.
The senior journalist made headlines recently when he met Hafiz Saeed in Lahore. The meeting created an uproar in India as the opposition political parties demanded to know whether the meeting was sanctioned by the Indian government.
Vaidik reacted to the controversy by describing himself as 'a man of ideas' and not just a mere journalist. "Men of ideas like Rousseau and Karl Marx were not of any country alone," the journalist told the media.
Vaidik denied meeting Saeed with official sanction of the government, saying he met the terrorist on a personal level. He said he wanted to 'understand Saeed's mindset' by meeting him. His acquaintance Ramdev presented a feeble defence on his behalf by saying Vaidik possibly wanted to 'change Saeed's way of thinking.'
Vaidik in his defence maintained the hour-long meeting was the outcome of a "mutual desire" from both sides and it was arranged with the help of Pakistani journalists.
A picture of Vaidik with Hafiz Saeed was circulated on social media, stirring a raging controversy. Uproar in the Rajya Sabha followed on Monday and Tuesday over the controversy.
The opposition parties took the opportunity to slam the BJP government by saying Vaidik met Saeed as Prime Minister Modi's envoy, but the journalist rubbished the allegations. He said he had close ties with many former Prime Ministers that included Congress's PV Narsimha Rao but never became anyone's special envoy.
He said he always stayed away from politics. In fact it was the Congress, he said, who wanted him to be the deputy prime minister during Narasimha Rao's regime. Earlier this year, he delivered a speech on 'civilisational discourse' in Delhi which was attended by BJP's veteran leaders like Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley and Yoga guru Ramdev.
The veteran scribe proudly claims he has no qualms about meeting the terrorist. He said he met Saeed on a personal trip to Pakistan. He said had also earlier met the likes of LTTE's Prabhakaran, armed Naxalites, etc in his capacity as a journalist, which should be looked as his professional duty.
Though the government denied being in the know about the Vaidik-Saeed meeting, the opposition party Congress alleged the Ministry of External Affairs must have known about the meeting. The party vice-president Rahul Gandhi even described Vaidik as 'a RSS man.'
On Tuesday, Vaidik sparked another row by saying Kashmir should be independent and that India and Pakistan should stop fighting over the region. He later clarified that he meant Kashmir should get autonomy, which it has, and also it should become a bridge between the two countries.
Currently, the chairman of Council for Indian Foreign Policy and Bhartiya Bhasha Sammelan, Vaidik has been the founder-editor of Press Trust of India's Hindi News Agency 'Bhasha'. He also was the Editor (views), Nav Bharat Times.
On his website, Vaidik describes himself as 'a well-known scholar, political analyst, orator and a columnist on national and international affairs.'
He was awarded a PhD in International Affairs from Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1971. Vaidik also taught political science at Motilal Nehru College, Delhi University, and also has been a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses and at SIS Jawaharlal Nehru University.
He has published research publications on Afghanistan, India's foreign policy and Hindi language, in Hindi.