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Shimla: The flashback of this memory revolves around the time when I was not even born and Shri Virbhadra Singh ji was declared as the Congress candidate form Mahasu for Lok Sabha elections in 1962. Soon after his name was cleared as the party nominee, Raja Sahib, as Virbhadra Singh ji was popularly known in the political circle, reached Assembly Baijnath to find an appropriate person to canvass for him during the election.
While discussing about the right person for canvassing, a shop owner told Virbhadra to wait till a bus reaches at the stop and the right person will be seated on the front seat, wearing a white cap. His name is as Pandit Sant Ram Ji. Virbhadra was convinced, as many others too had referred Pandit Sant Ram’s name to Raja Sahib.
Accordingly, the bus reached and Raja Sahib entered into the bus to find Pandit Sant Ram. It was the beginning of a long journey of relationship, having no iota of doubt. A strong foundation of relations was laid. Raja ji was a Member of Parliament and the next elections to the State Assembly were also declared.
YS Parmar was the then Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh and Smt Satyavati was the State Congress President. In the capacity of an MP, Virbhadra asked for the ticket to Pt. Sant Ram ji from Baijnath assembly constituency. There was a hot discussion on the issue of ticket for the constituency, along with opposition from all corners. But Raja Sahib stood firm and insisted that that there was no meaning of staying back as an MP when he could not manage a ticket to bonafide person for an assembly constituency.
The reaction of six-time CM was noticed by Smt. Indira Gandhi and on her directions, and Pt Sant Ram was offered the ticket. He won the seat and I was born in the same year. Up on growing up, I found that my father used to take me to Raja Sahib and the adorable queen Smt. Ratan Kumari ji always treated me like her own son.
She was very fond of rearing cats. She used to take good care of me whenever Virbhadra Singh and my father went out of station for various assignments. She was prompt to cater to my demands.
Once upon a time, I was sitting at home and my father came with a box saying that Rani ji has sent something for me in the box. Our joy knew no bounds after opening the box as it contained butter. I felt as if I had found a hidden treasure.
Once we had a visit to Delhi when Raja ji was a Union Minister and my father told me that he is going to become the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. We had no sense of the title of Chiefministership and Raja ji was the head of the family for all of us.
Suddenly, the great queen passed away after a serious illness. During that time, there was marriage of Brigadier Satish, the son of my elder aunt’s and the preparations were on. Suddenly, two policemen came to our house and coaxed something in the ears of my father. My father told me to perform the rituals and role of maternal uncle in the marriage, as he has been summoned by Virbhadra singh immediately. The next morning edition of all newspapers had carried the news of the marriage of Rajaji with Queen Pratibha Singh ji and only person in the marriage party was Pandit Sant Ram ji. He continuously remained Minister in the Cabinet of Raja Sahib and nobody could create difference between them. I shall write a book on these fond memories and will keep it as a treasure of memories.
My father left this world in 1998, and before breathing his last breath he directed me to intimate Raja ji. Accordingly, I made a phone call to him and he reached the hospital along with Rani Pratibha Singh ji and also poured sacred water into his mouth. Raja ji felt shattered and told me that Raja Virbhadra lost his left arm. During that time, I was pursuing my MBA from H.P. University and Raja ji directed me to contest election although family has decided that nobody shall enter the politics.
I felt honoured. The directions of Raja Sahib and showed my back to studies to contest election although I was a toddler in politics. The state had the government of BJP and we lost election by a narrow margin. Despite many ups and downs, I always remained under the safe shadow of Raja Sahib. Times changed and he became the State President of Congress Party in 2012 and I was given responsibility of General Secretary of the organization.
When I pleaded to a point some experienced and senior workers for this key post, he simply designated me as trustworthy and reposed faith in my commitment elections were held and Raja Sahib became the Chief Minister and I was also taken as a Cabinet Minister at a very young age.
The berth in the ministry at such a young age could never be imagined. The oath had to be administered the following day and he directed everybody to reach for the occasion. I was not feeling well. Hence he told me to go and take rest. He made a phone call to me at 11’oclock with the information that he is Virbhadra Singh the Chief Minister and he is very happy to have him in the Cabinet and gave a hearty laugh.
He further asked me to sleep after taking medicine and reach at the stipulated time for the oath administering ceremony. He reposed faith in me and gave me a chance to serve the society in the capacity of a Minister. The state will never get such a towering and visionary politician to serve the people for such a long span of time.
Raja Sahib made people realize that the Chief Minister is an integral part of the society and the state is his family and he is the head of the family. The entire county was in tears at his sad demises which speaks volumes of his entire political journey.
His departure from this world is a personal loss to me as he showered upon me fatherly love. It seems that the roof of my house is removed with the storm of his departure. It would be difficult for me to word with any other politician with perfect co-ordination as I lost my incarnation of god. It is my maiden write up in his memory and yet many more to come. He was not a being but a saint and certainly the destiny of Himachal.
(The author is a former Minister of Himachal Pradesh Government and currently an AICC secretary)