Virbhadra Singh Covid A Void Left in Congress
The death of 87-year-old Virbhadra Singh due to post-Covid complications has marked the end of an era in the Himachal Congress. After cutting through political parties and ideologies, Singh’s death has left a big vacuum in Congress as no other leader has enjoyed the appeal and obsession of the masses. Singh, who has dominated the political arena in Himachal for nearly six decades and saw that Congressman Stalwart has been the Union Minister for so long, became an MP in 1962 at the age of 26. In 1983, he was elected Chief Minister.
For the first time, a feat he repeated six times. Awakening to an amazing fighting spirit throughout his political life, Singh even defeated the dreaded Covid virus twice before he was infected. Arguably, among the country’s tallest Congress leaders, Singh has won nine parliamentary and five Lok Sabha elections, a feat that only a few politicians in the country can boast of. He was the President of the State Congress in 1977, 1979, 1980, and 2012 before becoming the Chief Minister. However, his tenure as Chief Minister in 1999 lasted for a short period of 18 days after he failed to win a confidence vote due to his election as an independent MLA to support the Dhumal-led BJP regime.
Although he has been accused of being authoritarian in his actions, it is a personality bigger than his life that denied him any challenge from outside the party. Born on June 23, 1934, Singh entered politics in 1962. His political career was marked by his party struggles, not only against his opponents in other parties but also with the high command of his own party. In 1993, a weak lion led the party’s high command in the fight for the chief ministership, and despite enjoying the support of then-Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, he kept his Khil rival, Sukh Ram, out of the seat. . The High Command had to take action as most of the MLAs were on his side. Despite belonging to the royal dynasty, his power was his easy access to the people. He was often greeted with the slogan “Raja Nahin Fakir Hi Himachal Ki Takdir Hai“. But he also had a fair share in the debate.
His last move as chief minister from 2012 to 2017 saw the fight against the veteran Congress leader, the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate, and the Income Tax, who have filed lawsuits against him for alleged misappropriation of assets and money. In fact, the CBI raided her “Holy Lodge” home in Shimla in 2015 on her daughter’s wedding day. Allegations of corruption against him, his wife, and his son are still at various stages of the investigation. In his half-century-long political career, Singh has faced electoral defeat only twice. After losing the assembly elections from Jubal-Kotkhai in 1990, former CM Ramlal Tagore had to taste defeat, although Singh also contested from Rohru. He also lost a Lok Sabha election from Mandi in 1977 to Ganga Singh of the Janata Party.