From the Himachal Pradesh cricket body president to member of Parliament and chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing, Anurag Thakur’s rise in politics in six years has been spectacular.
March 19, 2002 was a dream day for Anurag Thakur, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s son, when the foundation stone of Dharamsala cricket stadium was laid in a low-key affair. Little did anyone realise then that Thakur — the spirit behind what is now world’s finest sports arena with the mighty Dhauladhars in the backdrop — was on the cusp of a major journey.
Six years after that he entered active politics by winning the byelection for Hamirpur parliamentary constituency, which was vacated by his father. He repeated the success in the 2009 general election. Now eyes set on a hat-trick, Thakur — riding the ‘Modi wave’ and banking upon the reputation and work his father had done as a chief minister — is sweating it out travelling the length and breadth of his constituency that comprises 17 assembly segments spread across five districts.
HT follows the young leader as he campaigns in the interiors of Dharampur assembly segment of Mandi district.
Thakur, who is often dubbed as a jet-setter sets on the task from his home at Samirpur village in Hamipur district. While a team of young people plans the day’s strategy, he takes a quick breakfast and hurriedly moves out as it is 9.30 am and he is already late.
After a 20-minute drive, his cavalcade enters the villages of treacherous roads of Dharampur with his Toyota Fortuner — covered with his own and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s posters — leaving a long trail of dust behind. Another vehicle with security staff follows playing the Modi tunes. A team of tech-savvy youngsters who manage his media campaign follows Thakur in the third vehicle.
On the way, Dharampur MLA Mahender Singh Thakur joins him and the procession reaches Sidhpur, a small village on the bank of the Beas.
His suppor ters, including women and youths, welcome their MP raising slo g ans as Thakur apologises for being late.
After a brief speech by local le gislator, Thakur takes the stage elaborating about the problem the country was facing and why there was a need of change. He also reminds people about the unprecedented development in the area after his father became chief minister for the first time in 2008. In most of the speeches he mentions the work his father has done. While claiming credit for the railway network expansion in the area, he tells people about international awards he has received as a young leader.
After a brief talk about his achievements, he attacks the Congress-led gover nment in the state and at the Centre. In a two-way communication, he talks with electors in the local dialect. “Yahan logon ko ration nahi milta, yuvaon ko berozgari bhatta nahi mil raha or hamare CM sahib bolte hain ki agar meri tarf ungli uthai to kaat dunga (People are not getting ration, youth are not getting unemployment allowance and our CM is threatening to chop the fingers pointed at him),” says Thakur.
On the UPA gover nment, Thakur says, “Dekho ab toh Manmohan ka bhai bhi dukhi hokar BJP mein aa gaya, bola bahut hua sardar abki baar Modi sarkar (Even Manmohan Singh’s brother had joined BJP, saying this time it will be Modi government).”
While people approach him with their personal work, Thakur tells this reporter about his plan. “I will make efforts for expansion of the rail network, besides bringing bigger industrial units, an institute of professional training and a PGI centre.”
After Sidhpur he moves to another village, Sari, and after a half-an-a-hour stay reaches Sadhot where he has his lunch with supporters. At 4 pm, his cavalcade reaches Paplog near Sarkaghat and he has three more meetings to address. His campaign, like every day, has stretched late into the evening and he returns home after completing the day’s plan.