‘Aspirants of Ministerial Berth Defeated Me’ : GR Musafir
Seven times former Congress MLA Gangu Ram Musafir from Pachchad constituency in Sirmour district is considered to be a staunch loyalist of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. He is appointed as Deputy Chairman of Planning Board after he lost 2012 assembly elections. Himachal This Week’s Ramesh Paharia talked to Gangu Ram Musafir to track his long political career spanning over three decades. Following are the excerpts of the interview:
HTW: Tell us regarding your entry into electoral politics?
GR Musafir: I was interested in social service while I was still in government job. Later on I resigned from the job and focused entirely on social service and entered politics.
HTW: You won seven consecutive assembly elections since 1982. What went wrong in 2012 election?
GR Musafir: Certain people spread the canard that Congress will not gain power in Himachal. I have served the area for 35 years and will continue to do so in future also. People were misled that the BJP would retain power after 2012 elections. That led to change in my constituency.
HTW: Was it anti-incumbency factor against you or people wanted a change in their representative even as Sirmour district was once considered Congress party’s bastion?
GR Musafir: Few black sheep were responsible for my defeat in Pachchad constituency. Anti-incumbency factor might have played some role but few party’s people betrayed.
HTW: Three or four close confidants of CM Virbhadra Singh lost in 2012. What was the reason?
GR Musafir: Few leaders aspiring for a ministerial berth were responsible for the defeat of Virbhadra’s staunch loyalists, including me, besides some intra-party squabbles. It would not be wrong to say that often our own people betray.
HTW: Who among youth Congress leaders is capable of providing leadership to Himachal in future?
GR Musafir: There are many capable leaders in Youth Congress. If we talk in today’s context, then youth Congress president Vikramaditya Singh is not only a mature leader but is also capable of taking youth along.
HTW: CM has reportedly indicated that it is time for the younger generation to take over the reins. Will you follow his pursuit and give chance to a younger leader in mainstream politics?
GR Musafir: It is right that time is changing and we should bring youth to the forefront and Chief Minister has announced in this regard. There are many youth in Pachchad constituency also who have a strong hold in the area. They can become an alternative in the party in future. It is difficult to name single leader.
HTW: You have remained minister and also Speaker. What else you want to achieve in your political career?
GR Musafir: I am contended with my political career and I never practiced the politics of region, caste and religion.
HTW: What has been your great achievement and failure in your political career?
GR Musafir: I have a long list of achievements but there has not been a single blot in my 35 years of political career. It is my biggest achievement. There is no failure.
HTW: You had played important role in keeping independent MLA Ramesh Dhawala out of BJP’s reach after 1998 assembly election and even accompanied him while he visited his home constituency as a minister in Virbhadra’s government. How would you analyse the events almost two decades down the line?
GR Musafir: It is right that I am close to Ramesh Dhawala who won as independent candidate in 1998 elections. Dhawala is still close to me. Shanta Kumar forced him to support the BJP because of Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government at the Centre. Everybody knows that Dhawala is close to Shanta Kumar.
HTW: Who is Himachal’s bigger Congress leader; Dr. YS Parmar or Virbhadra Singh?
GR Musafir: Both have different place in Himachal politics. Dr. Parmar created Himachal under difficult circumstances whereas Virbhadra completed his unfulfilled dreams. It is difficult to say who is bigger leader as both of them are synonyms of development.
HTW: What lessons you have learnt in your long political career?
GR Musafir: I am a strong votary of equal development and will continue to pursue it in my political career in future also.
HTW: Will you contest next assembly election or propose the name of any of your family members for the same ?
GR Musafir: It is difficult to say whether I would contest next election or not. I will contest elections if people want me to contest. It would be too early to announce as elections are still far away.
HTW: How can the Congress regain its lost ground at the national level?
GR Musafir: People have understood how Modi misled them in last parliamentary elections. Masses understand that only Congress can provide a good government at the Centre. The party will emerge at the national level BJP has failed to fulfill its pre poll promise of bringing ‘achche din’.
HTW: Who is potential Congress leaders from Sirmour to lead the state again after YS Parmar?
GR Musafir: No one match the stature of Dr. YS Parmar and It is difficult to predict about future.
* Youth Congress president Vikramaditya Singh is not only a mature leader but is also capable of taking youth along
-Gangu Ram Musafir Deputy Chairman of Planning Board