Not just hard work, but luck too plays a crucial part when it comes to success in politics. For Rajeev Satav, a lot many opportunities came as luck on his side. First, he tasted success at the age of 35, when he fought his first election to state assembly and wrested Kalamnuri (Hingoli district) in favour of Congress, for the first time in 20 long years. His potential was judged by none other than Rahul Gandhi who was busy experimenting with the youth wing of his party.
Rahul Gandhi chose Kalamnuri as a venue to address a rally during the state assembly elections in 2009, for his young colleague, who was heading the state youth Congress then. When he addressed the rally of around 40,000 strong crowd, which was keen to hear him in this nondescript tehsil town from the Marathwada region, I was one of the witnesses. He might have observed Rajeev and his young brigade closely, who were putting up a strong fight against the sitting Shiv Sena member of the legislative assembly (MLA) who was more than confident to retain his seat, winning it twice earlier.
But the result seemed to have bolstered Rahul Gandhi’s confidence in Rajeev, as before anyone could even realise, he was in the close-knit circle of young Gandhi. And within a year, this 36-year-old first-time MLA was asked to head the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) beating formidable contenders, such as Priyavrat Singh and Nyamar Karpak who were known to be very close to Rahul. This was another instance of luck having its laugh at Rajeev. For a young face from Maharashtra, honour came after 20 years. Before him Mukul Wasnik was the IYC chief between 1989 and 1990.
From then onwards, there was no looking back for Rajeev, who was introduced to Rahul through aam aadmi ka sipahi, the brainchild of Rahul, with an agenda of working for the downtrodden. For this, Rahul wanted common faces for the youth wing. And for Rajeev, there was no one to put a word for him despite the fact that his mother Rajani Satav was a two-term MLA between 1980 and 1990 and was member of Shankarrao Chavan’s cabinet in 1987. She had almost quit politics and was staying mostly in Pune. In short, Rajeev scaled the ladder of success on his own.
"It’s an honour bestowed on Maharashtra," shy and suave Rajeev had said, reacting on his elevation. Rajeev’s appointment as IYC chief came at a time when Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) were raising a pitch for Marathi manoos. The days were turbulent, as both the parties were opposing the theatrical release of Shahrukh Khan-starrer My Name is Khan. Rahul’s visit to Mumbai in the same period was threatened with violent agitations by both the parties. But Rahul did come and Rajeev was the only person allowed to accompany him in his SUV.
Before his appointment as IYC chief, Rajeev was all set to be inducted into the state cabinet as the young face. But he couldn’t make it due to the intra-party struggle, since there was intense competition between Raosaheb Shekhawat (son of then president Pratibha Patil), Praniti Shinde (daughter of Sushilkumar Shinde) and Amit Deshmukh (son of the party heavyweight Vilasrao Deshmukh).
With limited cabinet berths coming in Congress’ favour, it was decided that there will be widespread resentment if any of the young scions of big leaders makes it. Rajeev had to concede and, if he didn’t, he would have been the party’s CM face in the near future, because who knows luck was on his side.
But, in 2014, Rahul wanted him in the Lok Sabha and Rajeev was amongst the two Congress Lok Sabha members elected from Maharashtra along with Ashok Chavan.
Rajiv had everything on his side, being lucky for every opportunity in politics. But on the health count the luck factor wouldn’t have it.