Joining Congress wasn’t an easy decision for 51-year-old Manish Khanduri, son of former chief minister and Pauri MP, Major General (retd) Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri. But he chose to stand by it.
He joined Congress in the presence of party chief Rahul Gandhi in Dehradun on March 16.
“My grandmother and grand maternal uncle, both were Congress leaders. Yet, my father chose to join BJP,” Manish said over phone.
BC Khanduri is a veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader, but his mother Durga Khanduri was a senior Congress pioneer. Her brother, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna was former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and a veteran Congress front-runner.
Bahuguna’s son Vijay Bahuguna who was former Uttarakhand chief minister was also in Congress, but had joined BJP in 2016. The former CM’s sister Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who was cabinet minister in UP, was also in Congress but joined BJP in 2016.
“For me, it wasn’t an easy decision to join Congress. But after a lot of introspection, I took it and stand by it,” Manish added.
Manish emphasised that he didn’t join Congress because he wanted a ticket to contest Lok Sabha polls. “My father was chief minister and MP. If I would have wanted a ticket, I could have easily got it,” he said.
Manish claims he resonates with the ideologies of the Congress. As a young boy, he had seen his grandmother working for the party and still has vivid memories of her.
“My sister chose to join BJP after my father. I chose to join Congress. We make choices of our free will. Progressively, my nature is inclined towards Congress,” he said.
He also mentioned about his father’s pain of being dropped as the chairman of the standing committee on defence in September last year. “He is pained and I can see it,” he said.
The central government had dropped Khanduri’s name after he submitted a report highlighting that 68% of equipment with armed forces was not in good condition, indicating that the forces have little to rest on.
“My father is a soldier. He is disciplined, and like a middle-class family, he has taught us to live with integrity. My sister and I are trying to live up to his expectations,” he said.
Congress has finalised his name from Pauri LS constituency from where his father is a sitting MP.
Talking of the issues in the constituency, he said holistic approach needs to be carried forward by one government after another so that problems of health care, education, unemployment, migration and agriculture could be resolved. “There’s concerted effort needed to address all these problems. One government single-handedly cannot do so,” he said.
Talking of strengthening medical care, he suggested tele-medicine, employing doctors and boosting services at least in district hospitals.
He said reviving agriculture is a must for the hill state to check migration and ensure livelihood opportunities.
“We need to have holistic approach towards agriculture. Reviving it would mean mitigating two other issues of migration and unemployment,” he said.
Mar 20, 2019 15:45 IST