Interview Of A Dedicated Congressman
INTERVIEW OF A DEDICATED CONGRESSMAN
Capt. Balvir Singh Rawat was born on 21st March, 1943, at Khirsu Village in Pauri, now in Uttarakhand. Joining the military at the age of 17, he retired in 1988 and since then has been a dedicated Congressman. -Interviewed by Dr. Jaya Shukla
Q. How did you get influenced by the Congress principles? A. People in my area believed in Congress. They also had faith that Congress got us independence. In 1960, at the age of 17 years, I joined the army, when I had not even passed high school. But I was getting education even in active service, passing exams. I later became an instructor at the IMA, and at one point was also a spokesperson. It was due to the rules created by the Congress government, that we in the army could keep studying, and prepare for our retirement at the age of 45 years with more capabilities. The armymen then appreciated the Congress for this. I served at the Lahore sector in 62-63, at Dhaka in ’71, and at Kargil in ’73. Everywhere I saw, from 60 to the 70’s, the armymen stamped for the Congress on their postal ballot papers.
I was in service when Smt. Indira Gandhi was martyred. All of us did not eat or cook. The armymen idolized her because she helped India’s defence tremendously by helping Bangladeshi independence, “Mukti Vahini”, and bombarding the entire fleet of Pakistan air-force due to which their atrocities remained at bay for 8 years. Because of this, Congress became the armyman’s favourite.
Q. When did you become an active Congressperson?
A. I retired from the Army in 1988, and became a Congress member. I contested and became Gram Panchayat Pradhan of Arkedia Gram Panchayat with 24,000 votes. We had been active in the Uttarakhand Rajya Movement. The State was formed due to Smt. Sonia Gandhi’s strong initiative and she became very popular in Uttarakhand.
Q. Who is your ideal person?
A. Unquestionably, Smt. Indira Gandhi. She was really an Ironlady.
Q. Which is your most memorable time?
A. When Bangladesh became independent, the Armymen were jubilant. India’s defence had strengthened, Pakistan had weakened, and its air-force destroyed. We almost worshipped Indiraji for this.
Q. What difference do you find in the Congress now since earlier?
A. There is not much difference in the Congress. The belief in its tenets and principles are still the same in the grass-root activists. But society has changed with the times. So have the middle-cadre party members. They take the activism more as a career.
Q. How to re-strengthen the party?
A. It is true that Congress had been at a nadir sometime back. It was due to the combined effect of several factors. As a result the activists’ self confidence level had become low. Now that the party is emerging again, the selfconfidence, and with it the activeness of the cadres, is also re-emerging. Recent Bihar election results reflected this.
It is very important to strengthen the Congress. Its secular principles and principles based on holistic development and well-being are rooted in the basic culture and the very soul of our country. These are being attacked by the vested interests of the opposition. That is why it is dangerous for our country if these vested interests continue in the Central government for long periods.
It becomes important to create more awareness about Congress principles, good work done by the Congress, the revolutionary legal Acts and amendments brought by the UPA and the prodevelopment schemes given, etc. It is necessary since the opponents appear to be experts in twisting facts, taking credit for the work done by Congress, changing the people friendly schemes to the extent that they become a burden for the common man and benefit only certain groups. They try to usurp popular Congress icons which the general public really respects, like Sardar Patel, the eye-glasses of Mahatma Gandhi, etc. But sometimes these actions become too transparent and expose them, as happened in the case of OROP. It was Indiraji who had talked of OROP in 1973. Even after her martyrdom the Congress said her dream would be fulfilled, and was working towards it. The NDA government from ’99 to 2004 called it impracticable and put it in cold storage. In 2006 the UPA agreed for the first installment of this for till 2006 as Rs. 22 hundred crores. UPA 2 agreed for 23 hundred crores. Upon Shri Rahul Gandhi’s initiative in 2014, Rs. 500 crores were accepted for one quarter. The BJP government only dilly-dallied the issue with excuses, but did not implement it. It is important to contradict their wrong propaganda, and propagate the real facts. And this needs to be done in a well-planned manner. A separate department for this could help.
Also, Congress principles, its history, stories of sacrifices by its leaders and our independence struggle, should be reached to our youth in schools, villages, gram-sabhas, youth-clubs, libraries, etc. The youth is being misguided methodically by unfactual propaganda. These principles are the essence of our Indian culture and are the cement that unites our country. Parties with vested interests are attacking these very roots.
Q. What are/were your other interests?
A. I played football, like to sing, acted in dramas, and also write socially relevant songs.