Thursday, December, 02,2021

Modi as Chanakya of Indian politics!

In the run up to forming Government in Himachal Pradesh, the Congress, which had 32 seats of its own, was eyeing Independent MLA Ramesh Dhawala as well as MLAs of Himachal Vikas Congress.

Congress leader Virbhadra Singh had a lot of hope, especially regarding MLA Mansa Ram, whose story is as interesting as the turn of events in the Himalayan state.

Mansa Ram had once earlier helped Virbhadra Singh to become the Chief Minister. Even at that time, the Virbhadra government needed only one MLA.

Before the 1998 Assembly elections, Mansa Ram went to Virbhadra Singh and asked for a Congress ticket, but he was refused the ticket.
Mansa Ram also made an argument that he had helped in forming the Congress government by giving his vote and it may be that this time also Congress may need his one vote.

On this he was even ridiculed saying that such instances do not happen every time. But fate had something else in mind.

This time, again, Virbhadra Singh needed an MLA to form the government. Obviously, his first thought was of Mansa Ram coming to his rescue.

But Narendra Modi, as in-charge, was so conscious that he had already hidden not only Mansa Ram but also the other three MLAs in Punjab and Haryana, i.e. outside Himachal.

The Congress was left searching for them and even after their umpteen efforts, the entire party could not find these three men. But in the meantime, Independent MLA Ramesh Dhawala was found and ‘captured’.

With the capture of Dhawala, the Congress got a majority and submitted a claim to the Governor Rama Devi to form the government.
On the other hand, BJP was stuck on 32 MLAs despite the support of four MLAs of Himachal Vikas Congress.

Due to Dhawala’s support, the Virbhadra government again came to power in Himachal on 6 March 1998. Ramesh Dhawala, who won the elections for the first time, was given cabinet status in the Virbhadra government and made the Minister of Irrigation and Public Health.

Dhawala was originally associated with the BJP, so the Congress was apprehensive that he may suddenly bring down the Congress government and help BJP in forming government.

Since if Dhawala played ‘spoilsport’, it would have reduced the number of MLAs supporting the Congress to 32 and that of the BJP would have increased to 33.

Therefore, Dhawala remained important for both the parties. He was given Oakover, the Chief Minister’s residence, to stay there amid tight guard of the security personnel so the BJP leaders may not ‘abduct’ him.

In such a situation, Modi made such a strategy to take out Dhawala that all the dice were turned. In a very dramatic development, a message was conveyed to Dhawala through a staff personnel as to how he could run away by throwing dust in the eyes of the security personnel.

One day, when the government jeep was taking Dhawala to the secretariat, he suddenly jumped out of the jeep and into the BJP car already parked in front.

This car took him to Modi, Dhumal and Nadda, from where Nadda took him to an unknown place. Because Dhawala disappeared, Congress and BJP kept on claiming that Dhawala was with them.

In such a situation, the BJP challenged the Congress to prove its majority in the assembly, which Virbhadra Singh accepted. Finally Virbhadra Singh resigned on 12 March 1998.

After the resignation of Virbhadra, Modi brought Dhawala to the fore and the BJP staked claim to form the government before the governor. Thus on March 24, 1998, the Dhumal government came to power in Himachal for the first time.

Modi got all the credit for the formation of the Dhumal government. As BJP in-charge, he received a lot of applause and as a reward, he was made the national general secretary of the party.

This was his first major achievement which paved the way for him to move forward in politics. He was even attributed the term ‘Chanakya’ for the first time.

The views expressed by the author are personaL

  • Shashikant Sharma
  • Government in Himachal Pradesh
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