Do Himachal leaders shy away from national politics?


By: Satyakam Bharti

Parliamentary elections are not far off, but there is hardly any visible excitement among the electorates in Himachal Pradesh. Any why should they anyway bother as the state will have almost negligible stakes in the central government to be formed, except for the local leadership trying to put up a show of strength to meet their local needs. That almost all major leaders from the state, irrespective of their party affiliations, have in one way or other expressed their inability to fight the Lok Sabha elections, is proof enough that they have no national ambitions, or to put it in other words they are happy with their cocooned life. The loser in every respect is the state as the leaders themselves cry hoarse over being neglected by the central government.

The obvious reasoning that the four MPs Himachal sends to the Parliament hardly count may be true to an extent, but the state anyway needs a strong lobby in New Delhi and the politicians and bureaucrats have failed miserably on that account. To what extent this is important for the state is evident from the benefits Himachal reaped while Sukh Ram and Shanta Kumar were ministers at the Centre. While the state has from time to time been represented in the union government, hardly anyone could leave a mark at the national level. The best known face from Himachal is perhaps Shanta Kumar, who now seems too saddened to lose the chief minister’s post to Prem Kumar Dhumal, and is thus in a state of  self-denial. The present minister of state for external affairs Anand Sharma seems ‘well settled’ in New Delhi, but has little local standing. The towering Virbhadra Singh is still a force to reckon with in state politics, but despite having a career spanning more than four decades, most of it as chief minister, he is still a lightweight within his own party at the national level.

The fact that someone like PA Sangma could rise to the post of Speaker of the Lok Sabha despite representing the numerically insignificant North East, proves that there is hardly any limitation over stature of a leader. Perhaps, had it not been for Dr YS Parmar’s stature, Himachal may never have existed as a state.

Moreover, today’s coalition politics has made every MP or MLA valuable, be it an independent, who now can even dream of becoming a chief minister, the way Madhu Koda did it in Jharkhand. Himachal’s political landscape may not be supporting coalition politics as of now, but that again is no hindrance to any leader cultivating a pan-India image.

While a whole generation of leaders is well past their prime now, the hope lies with the youth. The current political scenario in the state has given several young leaders a chance to prove their mettle and they have enough time at their disposal to cultivate an image for themselves and make their presence felt at the national level. Hopefully, they have a vision for the country, and not just the state.


  1. Rightly or wrongly, I would dispute the statement that Shanta Kumar remains the best known face of Himachal in Delhi or the country.

    That coveted title should unambigously go to Pandit Sukh Ram.

    While the rest of the country ridicules him for the wrong reason but the tele-communication revolution he rolled out in the country and particularly in Himachal is the best return the state has had from any one leader who got a stint to run a government ministry at Delhi.

    There is no disputing the fact that there are not many takers for a parliamentary seat from Himachal.

    Stature of new leaders is confined to their limited assembly segments and rising to a pan-India vision is not in their mettle.

  2. <div>

    <div align=justify>Barring a very few, new leaders in the state are the Gen-Next of the sitting MLAs. They have a vested interest to be the king of their fiefdom. Becoming an MP does not fit in their scheme of things. As rightly mentioned above, Pt Sukhram's tenure in the center was the turning point in terms of telecom revolution in the state. Others have simply come and gone and did the duty of sitting in Delhi for 5 years.

    Shanta Kumar is an over rated leader in terms of achievements. He could not ensure a proper train service to his constituency from Pathankot during his tenure leave aside doing anything for the state. Kangra Queen which was started earlier with great fan-fare was stopped by the Railways the next moment, despite having a great tourism potential for this region. People still travel in those ancient looking trains giving a feel of the vintage Mumbles Railway!! Aiport at Gaggal is there thanks to the presence of the Dalai Lama and Tibetian Govt in exile. Religious tourism in Kangra sector never made it as a national level project. His tenure was as lackluster as that of the other Congress MPs who have represented this seat.

    Anand Sharma became a leader of 'national stature' all by fluke and some great luck. Right connections brought him in the lime light. He gifted a passport office to Shimla but forgot to appoint the staff. Presently, he has a towering boss in Delhi who is always in the limelight leaving any chance for the deputy to grab the headlines. He may have a great PR network in Delhi but hardly a known face even in Shimla. As seen on national television during last Assembly elections, he was 'pleading' with the the booth officials that he was a central minister and may be allowed to vote since he forgot to bring his ID card!!

    Here I am reminded of a an ex-MP, now dead, who as a 'noble' gesture to the Himachalis coming into Delhi as first timers for jobs would offer his sarkari accomodation for staying, back in the 90s. One has to had a good reference from the state and shell out 3-4 grands as rent for a room. He even rented out the servant quarters in his bungalow. Back then the starting salaries used to be 6 grands and this accommodation though right in the heart of Delhi was pretty expensive.

  3. Friends

    The resource crunched state with balanced socio-economic factors , made Himachal and its politicians different but this is not the reason that our leaders are not contributing to the extent they should be.

    Be it a BJP or Congress we have a high pool of incompetent leaders at very competent positions . These guys play a role in secondary leadership and most of the time remain busy to mint some money , that too very small in amount . Our MP's even give away to amounts as low as INR 30K. Ethically we do not represent a healthy state of affairs while it comes to run a Govt. Most of the decisions run around the Govt. Employees and their transfers .

    Alternatively Himachali's believe in hardship & savings thus there is considerable growth in standards of living among public in common . Compared to Govt. Infrastructure growth with neighbouring states like Pun /Har Himachal require a fresh look on its roads , upgradation to Highways , Alternative transportatyion means like railways , industrialisation in SSI /MSI sector & promoting of Health Tourism.

    These voids are created by our Back Bencher Leaders and certainly even in Todays environment we lack the availability of VIBRANT and DYNAMIC leadership to represent us in Delhi as well as in Shimla , the great visionaries who choosed social service as their career not as business .

    Its the turn of Gen NXT now … Forget abt Shanta /Virbhadra / Shukh Ram / Vidya Stokes ….etc.

    I have not referred the name of Dhumal since he has turned a businessman now and busy in Supply Chain Management e.g Thousands of Kms of GI Pipes to IPH Dept & trying to institute his son as Next SCM manager .

    Cheers !

  4. Its not matter of shy away from national politics but as per my point of view is they themselves forget there own identity, from where they come & how they overcome from all dificulties & reach at that stage. I dont have more words to define or judge their capabilities bcz they might make a turn like turns in our state roads.

    Now a days politicians are with -99.9999% (minus) hope.

  5. But dont loose ur hope work hard & get on ur own.

    Dont depend on others do what u can do bcz the system cant be changed so easily.

  6. Mr. shanta kumar is a politician who is a good policy maker , a very good administrator and a very -2 good thinker but undoubtely a misfit politician in present era. 


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