For now, the clash of clans in Himachal Pradesh is history
The shift is also significant in the light of the clever manoeuvring that the families of Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal engaged in, to push the case of their loved onesanalysis Updated: Jan 04, 2018 19:39 IST
The recent assembly election in Himachal Pradesh was significant on several counts, but the transition from the politics of dynasty to politics of the people is something that is perceptibly different this time around. The elevation of Jairam Thakur to the chief minister’s seat, marked an end to the dominance of clans led by two patriarchs — Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal.
The fact that unlike the blue-blooded Virbhadra Singh, or ‘Raja’ in many people’s eyes, Thakur comes from a humble and non-political background, has enthused many in the hill-state. The shift is also significant in the light of the clever manoeuvring and jugglery that both clans have been engaged in to push family members. Virbhadra Singh fielded his wife Pratibha in the 1990s, who won a Lok Sabha seat from Mandi in 2004. In 2013, he appointed his son, Vikramditya Singh, the president of Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress. His old adversary and former college professor Dhumal, who began his political innings in 1983, was elected CM twice (1997 to 2002 and 2007 to 2012). Over the years, his son Anurag Thakur, a Lok Sabha member and cricket administrator, took the legacy forward.
Even as Virbhadra Singh won from Arki and Vikramaditya from Shimla Gramin, the Congress’s defeat in the state – along with the defeat of his sister-in-law Jyoti Sen from Kasumpati shows that the people’s confidence in candidates backed by strong families has taken a beating. The Congress may have won three out of five seats in Hamirpur district, but the credit for that goes primarily to the anger against the BJP’s lead campaigner Prem Kumar Dhumal and his family. Similarly, another indicator of the waning influence of the two families is the defeat of candidates such as Ravinder Ravi from Dehra, Ghulab Singh Thakur from Joginder Nagar and Baldev Sharma from Barsar – all of them perceived to be close to Dhumal.
Although the tainted former telecom minister and his son Anil Sharma have managed to find a place in the ministry, their thunder has been stolen by Thakur, the son of a mason, who rose up the party ranks beginning with the student wing of the BJP, to emerge as the tallest leader from Mandi district.
For now, the clash of clans isn’t in the picture in the game of thrones in Himachal Pradesh.
That is the beauty of Indian democracy.
Harish Thakur is chairman, department of political science, HP University, Shimla
The views expressed are personal