‘Virbhadra’s Functioning was Autocratic…’
Four times former MLA from Santoshgarh, Vijay Joshi claims that he had joined politics to raise voice against atrocities committed during Emergency. After split in Janata Party in 1980, he supported the then government led by Ram Lal Thakur and joined Congress in 1982. However, he had political differences with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh during Congress government’s tenure from 1993 to 1997. Vijay Joshi then changed political parties in a fast changing political scenario of Himachal. Himachal This Week’s Jatinder Kanwar talked to Vijay Joshi to track his political journey. Following are the excerpts of the interview:
HTW: Have you accomplished the objectives that motivated you to enter politics?
Vijay Joshi: I had entered politics to raise voice against atrocities committed during Emergency. My father late Vidya Sagar Joshi had fought against these and I joined politics to fulfill works initiated by him. I got the opportunity to serve people of Santoshgarh (now Haroli) constituency in four terms as MLA. I am fully satisfied of the work done by me.
HTW: You became the youngest MLA and remained Deputy Speaker and State Minister for Industries in 1985. Then you had strained equation with Virbhadra Singh. Was it right to wage a fight against the then chief minister?
Vijay Joshi: We had no personal issues. We raised voice as the then chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s functioning was autocratic because he sidelined MLAs to reduce latter’s position and influence thus ignoring development of the area. I believe that people have right to elect their MLA and MLAs should have the right to elect their leader in the assembly. Earlier, Leader of the House was decided through opinion of MLAs. Shanta Kumar had become Leader of the House in 1977 after winning by one vote. This tradition has now stopped. Now party high command imposes leader either before elections or passes on directions later on in meeting of MLAs by creating a false atmosphere. We were fighting against this system.
HTW: Who is responsible for sidelining you politically?
Vijay Joshi: I think we could not make people to trust issues raised by us and thus lagged behind in politics.
HTW: How much you had to politically suffer because you had never cordial relations with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh?
Vijay Joshi: Our fight was based on principles and lagged in electoral politics. I fought honestly for the right cause till I got opportunity. I became MLA on four occasions during three decades of my political career, held important positions but never compromised with principles. There was not even a single blot on me and people also appreciate my honesty and plain speaking in public life.
HTW: You started your political career from Janata Party and later joined different parties, including Congress, HVC, again Congress, BSP and now BJP, One after the other. Does it not raise questions on your political loyalty?
Vijay Joshi: I had joined Janata Party to raise voice against atrocities committed during Emergency. It split in 1980 and I supported the then Ram Lal Thakur government till 1982. I joined Congress on insistence of my supporters and served people at various positions in the party and government till 1997. Differences based on principles cropped up with leadership during 1993 to 1997 and I joined HVC and thereafter took decisions based on fast changing political scenario. I wanted to support Narendra Modi before 2014 elections and it was the sole motive to join the BJP.
HTW: How fit you find yourself as the political scenario has changed during past two decades?
Vijay Joshi: Political scenario has completely changed in the past two decades as men and muscle power dominate this field now. Choice of workers has no relevance in any party now. Era of leaders like us has finished.
HTW: Do you agree that Una district has not progressed as per expectations?
Vijay Joshi: Many works have been done in the past and are still underway now but still there is a lot of scope. Big institutes and industries should be established here to provide employment to youth.
HTW: Which leader do you consider best in today’s politics?
Vijay Joshi: Good leaders are there in all parties. For example Shanta and Dhumal are good in BJP and I don’t want to comment on Congress leaders.
HTW: Is politics the only medium for social service?
Vijay Joshi: It is not true as social service can be done without political medium also. There are many apolitical personalities doing good social service in the state.
HTW: Who are future leaders of Himachal? Can any leader from Una also become chief minister?
Vijay Joshi: Leaders are elected by people. Politics has immense possibilities and anything can happen in this field.
HTW: What three changes you would like to see in Himachal’s political scenario.
Vijay Joshi: Change in political infrastructure is must for changing political scenario. Political parties must be brought under RTI ambit to ensure accountability and transparency. Investigation of corruption charges should be completed in six months. Much needs to be done to maintain credibility of political leaders among masses.
HTW: Do you ever regret joining politics?
Vijay Joshi: I have never regretted joining political field. I led an exemplary life in politics.
Political parties must be brought under RTI ambit to ensure accountability and transparency. Investigation of corruption charges should be completed in six months
Former MLA, Santoshgarh