This above picture is of 1980 with the former Union Minister ( three time minister, communications, Petroleum n Chemicals n Finance ) n CM UP, late H.N. Bahuguna, a renowned political stalwart, rather a statesman ( would not hesitate to say) addressing few of my friend volunteers at his house, 92 Shahjahan Road, New Delhi who’d volunteered to go to Pauri Garhwal constituency to campaign for him from where he was contesting as an independent candidate (after leaving Congress in a huff but on principles) against the then Congress candidate Chandramohan Singh Negi. I led that group of young volunteers to Garhwal. I was then the president of Delhi State Youth for Democracy.
This election was postponed after it was rigged n later on HN Bahuguna won by over thirty thousand votes, giving a huge rebuff to the then PM Indiraji as it’s an open fact that under her directives, the then entire central government was allegedly involved to ensure his defeat.
To substantiate my contention, I would authentically say that the then home minister Gyani Zail Singh, the chief ministers of the then Congress ruled states viz. Arjun Singh, Madhya Pradesh, Bhajan Lal, Haryana, Darbara Singh from Punjab, Veer Bhadra Singh n Thakur Ram Lal from Himachal Pradesh n several other central ministers, MPs n MLAs’ were deployed at Pauri, Srinagar, Karnprayag, Rudraprayag, Kotdwar n Dehradun etc with the clear instructions that there should be no dearth of resources to ensure Bahuguna’s defeat who was then considered to be the direct political threat to the then leader of the political establishment at the centre i.e. Smt Gandhi herself. It was BBC then which used to broadcast the wrong doings in this election making it a most controvertial election between H. N Bahuguna n the entire then Congress’s union government.
The election assumed historic significance because the then election commissioner SL Shakdhar has taken a serious note of the rigging n other serious malpractices allegedly at the behest of the then ruling party through the hired goons from several states outside Uttarakhand as was reported in several dailies n even BBC. It was a historical decision as the then Chief Election Commissioner S L Shakhdar had on HN Bahuguna’s complaints about massive rigging in this byelection had not only postponed it but had vindicated his charges n accused the then Congress govt under Indira’s prime ministership of assasinating democracy by rigging the democratic elections. This was an international news then with Bahuguna capturing front page lead publicity.
The BBC played a pivotal role to highlight the injustices done against the people of Garhwal n Bahuguna by denying them the fundamental right to vote through coercion n threats thus making Garhwal popular globally. Prior to this election there wasn’t muchbdifference between a Nepali n a Garhwalee as people of the plains could hardly differentiate between them.
The print media too highlighted it extensively demoralising the then ruling Congress Party. However, this was HN Bahuguna’s last election from Garhwal as he shifted to Allahabad next time to lose at the hands of the political novice, popular cine actor n international celebrity Amitabh Bachchan who was the Congress candidate. I’ve been privileged to be in close political proximity of HN Bahugunaji from 1979 till his journey to the eternal home.
I along with my several youth volunteers were deputed as the in-charge of Kot n Choundkot blocks of Pauri Garhwal, being Rajput dominated blocks in both the elections n number of the then opposition political dignitaries like Raj Narain, Tarkeshwari Sinha, C Rajeshwar Rao, Chandra Shekhar etc were campaigning from Bahuguna’s side. Am immensely lucky to be under his political guidance n patronage as I got a golden opportunity to learn a lot from him. Stalwarts like Indira Gandhi n HN Bahuguna take birth once in centuries. Bahuguna transcended all boundaries of caste, community, religion n races.
He was the great secular leader, the inventor of Roza Iftar parties in India. He was above all as determined n committed as the Himalayas. As per my fb friend Gajendra Bahuguna’s version his memories would leave everybody flabbergasted n spell bound. He was the chief guest in my Moti Lal Nehru college students union annual function while he was union finance minister in Chaudhary Charan Singh’s government. I was then the president of Moti Lal Nehru College’s students union.