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A mellowed leader now

THE FACT that there is not much resentment over re-nomination of Vikram Verma for Rajya Sabha goes to show how the former union minister is transformed from an irascible middle-aged leader to a mellowed veteran now.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2006 10:04 IST

THE FACT that there is not much resentment over re-nomination of Vikram Verma for Rajya Sabha goes to show how the former union minister is transformed from an irascible middle-aged leader to a mellowed veteran now.

After his defeat from Dhar in 1998 assembly elections, Verma’s political fortunes plummeted to such a low that many in the party itched to write his political epitaph. It was indeed a tough time for Verma who had been leader of opposition for full five years.

Notwithstanding the rumours about his clandestine bonhomie with the then chief minister Digvijay Singh, none could bring any specific charge against him of seeking any favour from the then government. In fact, as an orator he is still remembered as the best leader of opposition in the last two decades.

Starting as student leader, Verma entered in the Vidhan Sabha in 1977 and was made parliamentary secretary in the Virendra Kumar Sakhlecha government. He was education minister in Sundar Lal Patwa Government. As a minister, Verma was not exactly popular with the party men due to his tendency to get easily provoked. Nevertheless, no charge of corruption was levelled against him.

Perhaps, this helped him retrieve his sagging political fortunes. He had defeated Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the state BJP president election. Chouhan was a rebel candidate, a fact Prahlad Patel has highlighted several times to remind the chief minister his ‘commitment’ to party discipline.

As union minister Verma got exposure to Delhi’s politics. This enabled him to take a bit dispassionate stand on intra-party squabbles in the state BJP in the recent years. That has now paid off.

However, Verma might not have forgotten his victory against Shivraj Singh Chouhan as much as his defeat in 1998 assembly election. The defeat was also partly attributable to his moderate stand on the Bhojshala issue.

As a moderate leader, he has seen ups and downs in the past one decade. He was subjected to humiliation when saffron activists in Dhar beat up his effigy and knocked it.

This was because Verma dared to use his influence to get party’s 2003 assembly election ticket to his supporter Dr Vijayvargiya. He was, however, dropped at the eleventh hour to accommodate RSS leader Jaswant Singh Rathore as the party nominee.

Once considered as prospective CM face from the party, Vikram Verma is slated to be away from the state politics (read Shivraj Singh Chouhan) for the next six years more.

Does the Central politics suit him? Vikram Verma said he would discharge responsibilities bestowed upon him by the party. “ I had been doing his bit for development of the State and would continue to do so,” he told Hindustan Times.

Getting railway projects particularly Indore-Dahod railway line, irrigation schemes and power projects for the State would be on his priority, he said.

First Published: Mar 13, 2006 10:04 IST