At 78, Shanta toils for party win | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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At 78, Shanta toils for party win

chandigarh Updated: Nov 01, 2012 21:18 IST
Naresh K Thakur
Naresh K Thakur
Hindustan Times
BJP national vice-president

He may have retired from the electoral politics but to ensure the Bharatiya Janata Party's win in the ensuing polls is his biggest concern. A man of principles, BJP national vice-president and former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shanta Kumar is leaving no stone unturned and is crisscrossing Kangra district holding meetings with booth level workers in far-off villages.

Shanta is the driving force of the BJP in the district, which is known for tilting political scales, and an inspiration for the leaders whom he had mentored to carry on with his political legacy. Shanta is the only leader who never promoted any family member in politics; he instead groomed leaders amongst common workers.

He has seen his many a dream come true but has many more in his mind especially for the state and for Kangra in particular.

His daily routine stretches late into night, sometimes holding a dozen meeting in a single day but he sticks to his schedule. In the hectic election campaign, he manages to practise yoga and meditation, which he had been doing regularly for the past 35 years.

It is 9 am and Shanta has already had his breakfast and is chalking out the plans and reviewing his schedule for the day. His residence at Palampur is teeming with BJP workers. After giving directions to the party workers to make arrangements for the public meeting at Bandla, a village near Palampur town, Shanta sits with a party election observer to review the election scenario.

"Shahpur mein sthiti kaisi hai (What is the situation in Shahpur)?" asks Shanta, to which the observer reply in hushed voices.

His next question is, "Dehra da ki hall hai seat nikal rahi hai na (Are we winning in Dehra)?" And the observer nods. After taking an account of the situation of the party candidates in some other constituencies, Shanta thanks the observer, saying, "Tusi badi mehanat kiti te mera saath nibhaya tuada dhanyawad (You worked hard and helped me, thank you very much)."

After having a short discussion with other observers and his campaign manager, Shanta settles in the back seat of his Honda City with his son along with Punjab BJP leader Swaran Salaria. It is a 15-minute drive to Bandla where party workers are eagerly waiting for their leader to arrive and raise a slogan, "Shanta Kumar Zindabad".

As he arrives, people rush towards his vehicle to garland him but he refuses and instead holds the marigold circlets in his hands. He keenly observes the address of other leader and look at his watch as the programme has already been delayed and he is scheduled to address another public meeting around 40 km in Sulah constituency. Feeling that the programme is getting prolonged, he directs the leader to cut short the speech and before his name is announced he is already on the dais.

Starting his speech on an informal note, Shanta remind the people about his association with the area. "Bandla is like my home and I asked my campaign managers to schedule a meeting here as I wanted to meet you people."

He reminds the residents of the village who belongs to Gaddi community that how he had struggled to get Scheduled Caste status for them in the NDA regime.

Striking an emotional chord with the electors, Shanta said all his dreams have come true and his last dream is to bring the Dhauladhar area on the world map and develop it as a tourist destination.

Urging the electors to use their franchise wisely, Shanta said the Congress has become synonym to the corruption and has no right to seek votes.

"I know you will choose the BJP for the work it has done for you. Every one of you to cast your vote no matters whom you vote for but do cast your vote," says Shanta in the end of the speech.

After enjoying celebrations with workers for a few moments, he quickly moves towards his car and immediately settles in the vehicle to reach the next destination. He normally carries his lunch, a few chappatis and mixed vegetables, with him. He took his meal in a short 15-minute break on the way to Kohna. After an hour-long run to Kohna, a far-off village in Sulah constituency, Shanta exhorts the party workers to ensure thumping victory for the party. After an hour-long meeting, he sets out for another village, Sanhoo. It is already pitch dark and Shanta has another programme at Palampur on his schedule.

Satisfied with his political career Shanta, at the ripe age of 78, is working hard for the party and only time will tell whether his efforts will pay dividend or not.