‘My Entry in Politics was Accidental’ : Mukesh Agnihotri
Switching over from a promising career in journalism to politics, three times MLA and Himachal Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri believes in the concept of ‘Help from all and work for all’ in politics. Holding additional Charges of Labour & Employment, Parliamentary Affairs, Information & Public Relations, the minister claims that suitable action has been initiated on Rs 2500 crore investment proposals received by the government after investor meets. Himachal This Week’s Jatinder Kanwar talked to Mukesh Agnihotri on different facets of his political career. Following are the excerpts of the interview
HTW: You were well established as a journalist. Who motivated you to enter politics?
Mukesh Agnihotri: My entry into politics was accidental. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and the then Congress president directed me to contest assembly election on party ticket from Santokhgarh (Now Haroli). I followed the directions.
HTW: Which field is more challenging; journalism or politics?
Mukesh Agnihotri: Both the fields are equally challenging. Everything is dependent upon a person’s integrity, credibility and accountability towards public or readers.
HTW: How much capable you consider yourself in providing leadership to the lower areas?
Mukesh Agnihotri: Work of a person and people make leaders. We are fortunate to be working with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh who has fifty two years experience in politics. I feel honoured and satasfied while working as a minister in his Cabinet.
HTW: Will you expand your political field in future?
Mukesh Agnihotri: My only agenda in politics is development of village and service to the poor people. I am following the concept of ‘Help from all and work for all’ right from the first day in politics.
HTW: What dominated in the recent held Lok Sabha elections; Modi wave or Congress infighting?
Mukesh Agnihotri: There is no factionalism in Himachal Congress and the party is intact like a unit. An artificial atmosphere was created regarding Modi wave in the entire country. Such waves can be stopped and we have demonstrated it in Haroli constituency.
HTW: The opposition alleges that you are Industry Minister of Haroli and restricted youself to the district only?
Mukesh Agnihotri: It is a baseless allegation as extensive work has been done in industry department. Three new industrial areas, including Kandrori in Kangra, Nalagarh in Solan and Pandoga in Una, have been sanctioned. The state is witnessing rapid and balanced development under Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s leadership. Haroli people have elected me for the third consecutive term and this area gave a lead of 7000 votes to Congress despite Modi wave in recent elections. I am duty bound to develop this area and people and I can’t stop doing that. A person can’t survive if he not serving people of his constituency.
HTW: How much progress the industries have made in two year tenure? Which areas witnessed industrial revolution after you were alloted this portfolio?
Mukesh Agnihotri: The Virbhadra government has created a positive environment for investors in Himachal. Investors have been attracted on ‘Industry by Invitation’ and ‘Emerging Himachal’ slogans. It is need of the hour that the government markets the state in an era of global competition and policies and programmes have been formulated to achieve this objective. Our governemnt accepted the challenge of bringing industries without industrial package available to the state. Areas for investment were identified and industrialists were contacted for investment in tourism, hydro power, minerals, infrastructure and industry. A consensus was evolved to provide surplus power to industries rather than selling to other states. Incentives to industries include cheap electricity, clearance of industrial proposals in 90 days through single window system and others.
HTW: Recent investor meets were encouraging for the state. When would it translate into reality?
Mukesh Agnihotri: The government has started receiving positive results of investor meets. Suitable action has been initiated on Rs 2500 crore investment propsoals received by the government.
HTW: Your distance from the organisation has been increasing ever since you became minister?
Mukesh Agnihotri: I served as general secretary and party spokesperson in the organisation. As a minister I am discharging my duties for Industries, Labour & Employment, Parliamentary Affairs and Information & Public Relations departments. I have to perfrom here. Even then I fulfill duties assigned by the organisation.
HTW: There is a furore over creation of Congress party’s organisational districts. What is wrong in it?
Mukesh Agnihotri: Una district has not been affected by it and leaders of affected districts can analyse it better.
HTW: What were wrongdoings during the BJP rule? How many have been sent to jail in your governemnt’s term?
Mukesh Agnihotri: Few people misused state resources during previous BJP government. The law will take its own course as the government is conducting inquiries in such cases.
HTW: While in opposition, you had accused the ruling BJP of selling Himachal. What is the status now?
Mukesh Agnihotri: Section 118 was misused during BJP government’s tenure and land mafia dominated in the state. Valuable land pieces were sold to non-agriculturist Himachalis for pittance. Circumstances have changed now as state’s interests are being safeguarded.
Mukesh Agnihotri – Industries Minister
Date of Birth – October 9, 1962
Education – Post Graduate Diploma in Public Relations and Advt.
Special Interest – Social service
Languages Known – Hindi and English
Favourite Pastime – Writing, reading, listening to music and playing badminton
Awards – Recipient of the best coverage award for reporting Assembly proceedings during 1994-95 Elected to State Legislative Assembly in 2003, 2007 and 2012
* An artificial atmosphere was created regarding Modi wave in the entire country. Such waves can be stopped and we have demonstrated it in Haroli constituency
-Mukesh Agnihotri Industries Minister