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3-min read

Remembering Jagdish Thakkar: The PRO Who Served 9 CMs and PM Modi for 28 Years

A journalist by profession, Jagdishbhai, who worked as PRO to the CM under successive Gujarat chief ministers, was the PRO in the Prime Minister’s Office until he breathed his last after prolonged illness.

Meghdoot Sharon | CNN-News18

Updated:December 10, 2018, 4:12 PM IST
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Remembering Jagdish Thakkar: The PRO Who Served 9 CMs and PM Modi for 28 Years
Born on February 28, 1946, Jagdish Manubhai Thakkar began his career as a journalist with Loksatta newspaper in 1967.
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Ahmedabad: Every journalist working in Gujarat during the past two decades knew Jagdish Thakkar as a very simple, approachable and helpful person who was also very close to the powers that be.

A journalist by profession, Jagdishbhai, who worked as PRO to the CM under successive Gujarat chief ministers, was the PRO in the Prime Minister’s Office until he breathed his last after prolonged illness. He was 72.

Prior to taking over as the Public Relations Officer in the PMO, Jagdish Thakkar was the PRO to nine chief ministers in Gujarat over a period of 28 years. The last of the nine Gujarat chief ministers with whom he worked was Narendra Modi, and he continued to work with him in the PMO since 2014. This means that he worked with Narendra Modi for 17 years during the latter’s term as CM and PM.

Tweeting after the demise of Jagdish Thakkar, PM Modi said: “Extremely saddened by the demise of Shri Jagdish Thakkar, the PRO in the PMO. Jagdishbhai was a veteran journalist and I had the pleasure of working with him for years, both in Gujarat and in Delhi. He was known for his simplicity and his warn hearted nature.”

Born on February 28, 1946, Jagdish Manubhai Thakkar began his career as a journalist with Loksatta newspaper in 1967. He also worked briefly with Saurashtra Samachar in Bhavnagar before joining the information department of the Gujarat government in 1972. He was posted as district information officer in several districts before being posted in the research and reference section of the information department headquarters at Gandhinagar in 1983.

As head of the research and reference section, Thakkar had the responsibility of providing reference material to the Chief Minister and ministers regarding their speeches at public functions. When Amarsinh Chaudhary took over as chief minister after the tenure of Madhavsinh Solanki, he inducted Thakkar into the Chief Minister’s Office as PRO. Until this time, it was the information department that circulated news about the chief minister’s activities, but from this point onwards, there was a designated officer of the information department who was entrusted the task of disseminating information of the Chief Minister’s activities to the media.

This continued until 2014 and Jagdish Thakkar would be seen on helicopters and planes with chief ministers. Apart from Amarsinh Chaudhary, Thakkar worked as the PRO to the CM under Chimanbhai Patel, Chhabildas Mehta, Keshubhai Patel, Suresh Mehta, Shankersinh Vaghela, Dilip Parekh and finally Narendra Modi.

In 2004, Jagdish Thakkar reached his retirement age, but Narendra Modi, who was then the Gujarat chief minister, did not clear his retirement and continued to give him extensions for 10 consecutive years as the PRO to the CM in Gujarat. Such was Thakkar’s proximity to PM Modi that then Modi quit as the Gujarat CM and left for Delhi in a special flight, those accompanying him were his two assistants — OP Singh and Dinesh Singh Bisht, his cook Badri and Jagdish Thakkar.

Having joined as PRO to CM in Gujarat at the rank of assistant director of information, Jagdishbhai got subsequent promotions to the rank of deputy director, joint director and additional director of information. Jagdishbhai was once asked by journalists in Gandhinagar as to what was the secret of him being able to work with so many chief ministers of different political parties.

Without batting an eyelid he had answered: “One must know what the chief minister wants. I am able to gauge the mood of my boss.” That is the reason why perhaps Jagdish Thakkar was “Jagdishbhai” to almost every chief minister with whom he worked with.

Having worked so closely with so many chief ministers, Jagdishbhai was surely privy to many experiences, some of which perhaps only he was witness to. His colleagues and friends would tell him to pen down his experiences with successive chief ministers and most lately, the Prime Minister. But he died without penning these down. He departed with so many untold interesting tales and perhaps many secrets too.

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