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When Dhami came calling

Monday, 26 July 2021 | Jaskiran Chopra | Dehradun

When Uttarakhand got its new chief minister recently, a flood of memories surrounded me as my mind went back to the times when a very young Pushkar Singh Dhami used to often visit us at our news bureau which was quite close to the BJP office in Dalanwala.  Those were exciting days. Uttarakhand was a year or two old and everyone was full of expectation and enthusiasm. Many young BJP workers used to come to the bureau of our news agency then as it was close to their office. The staff of the bureau would love to chat with them on our huge lawn. Animated discussions ranging from politics to education, from business to cinema and from sports to law come back to me as I think of those days.

Here I would like to recall the visits of Dhami who was then in his twenties and was a dreamy-eyed youth leader of the party. Soft spoken and polite, he was very popular with our staff and was always warmly welcomed by everyone. His gentle smile and cultured manner endeared him to all of us. He was down to earth and straightforward. His visits led to long discussions over endless cups of tea and hot samosas that were ordered as soon as any guest arrived at the bureau.

This youth leader had considerable energy and was always full of new ideas that he would share with us. He also shared his dreams for the people of Uttarakhand. On one occasion, I remember, the recently deceased senior Congress leader Indira Hridayesh had been the chief guest at a celebration in our office. After some time, when the formal event ended, we had Dhami as our guest and we sat with him late into the beautiful autumn evening in the lawn. Our conversations with him stand in my memory as an example of how politicians and journalists can be amicable and comfortable with each other. The informal atmosphere and the mutual trust were indeed memorable.

 When Dhami became the youngest chief minister of this young mountain state, memories of those early years of statehood were refreshed and one was quite sure that Uttarakhand would benefit from his enthusiasm and commitment to the welfare of the people. We, as journalists all those years ago, had heard his views and his ideas when nobody knew what lay in the future.There were no hidden intentions in what anyone said. In a way, those were innocent times, in politics too. The media and the politicians were all geared to work together for the new state and make it into the dream state it was meant to be. Things may have gone wrong in these twenty years, a lot may have happened. But Dhami’s  appointment as the new CM  refreshed not only the memories but also hopes for the state.

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