A law graduate-turned-politician, Vipin Singh Parmar has worked his way from the bottom to become Himachal Pradesh’s health and family welfare minister and then the Assembly speaker.
A protege of former chief minister and Union minister Shanta Kumar, Parmar started his political journey with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in the 1980s and went on to occupy various posts in the students union, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and the state BJP. Parmar contested his first election from the Sulah Assembly constituency of Kangra district, the home turf of Shanta Kumar, in the 1995 byelections but lost. He was elected to the Assembly from Sulah for the first time in 1998 and then in 2007 and 2017.
In an interview with Sanjeev Kumar, he spoke on various issues concerning the state and the nation as well as his own political journey.
Q. How was your experience as speaker of the HP Vidhan Sabha after remaining an MLA thrice and then a cabinet minister?
A: I consider myself fortunate to conduct proceedings of the HP Vidhan Sabha as its speaker because the discussions on various topics inside the House set the course of future action for the state. Yes, there have been different views and opinions among members but the results of discussions set the course for a bright future for the state and its people. I have urged both ruling party and opposition members to cooperate in the functioning of the House. There have been heated exchanges between members but that’s the beauty of a democracy. Overall, I have got full cooperation from Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, Leader of the Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri and all members during my tenure.
Q. What are your achievements?
A: I was elected as an MLA in 2017 with the overwhelming support of my constituents after which I was appointed as state health and family welfare minister. I had started the Himcare scheme, which finds a mention in the governor’s address and the Budget speech. It has provided benefits worth over Rs 200 crore to lakhs of people of the state. The scheme covers over 1,800 procedures such as cochlear implant for kids, kidney transplant and open heart surgery and people who earlier couldn’t afford treatment are getting benefitted. We have also started the Sahara Scheme for persons with chronic diseases and the CM Medicine Scheme under which free drugs are being provided for serious ailments.
A function to commemorate 50 years of the statehood of Himachal was organised in the assembly which was graced by President Ram Nath Kovind. All members, including previous speakers, deputy speakers, ex-ministers and ex-MLAs who had a role in the development of the state, apart from the people of the state, graced the event.
The Assembly also organised a presiding officers’ conference to mark 100 years of the first such event at the HP Vidhan Sabha held in 1921. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had participated.
Q. There was a discussion in the House on starting Zero Hour on the lines of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Is it being started?
A: Yes, the issue was being discussed. During the Assembly session, members raise points of order which disrupt the rhythm of discussions in the House and result in the wastage of time. We are planning to start it in the coming years as it is the need of the hour and will give members an opportunity to raise issues of concern.
Q. What is your take on the conduct of members of the House based on your experience of three terms? What changes do you foresee or what should be the priorities of the members in the House?
A: I don’t see any change. I am of the view that the former speakers and deputy speakers did discharge their duties as per the rules and set traditions which I am also doing. But yes there have been heated exchanges between ruling party and opposition members but they also pay heed to our advice.
Q. Is there any plan for live telecast of the Assembly proceedings to make them more accessible to the people?
A: Yes, it is under consideration. As of now, the chief minister’s Budget address is being telecast live but there is no system in place for the telecast of the Assembly proceedings live.
Q. There was a controversy recently over the remark that the President and the Prime Minister belonged to the Sangh (RSS).Your take:-
A: I have talked about ideology and said a person, irrespective of his ideology can attain any post but if anyone says or finds fault with my functioning, he/she shouldn’t attribute it to my ideology. It is wrong as I am associated with an ideology which says that one should discharge his/her duty responsibly and honestly. Now the whole country is getting associated with this ideology and it is a pleasant aspect as in the past, India suffered losses due to misconceptions spread among the general public. Whatever has been achieved today, it could have been done in the past.
Q. What kind of losses did India suffer in the past?
A: There are many. If I look towards Kashmir, Article 370 could have been removed earlier as neither the issue is related to any religion or party. If 500 princely states can unite to form India, why was Kashmir kept as a separate entity? Likewise, if we talk about the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, our ideology doesn’t say that we are against any religion but it says we respect all religions. We want to revive ancient traditions which were destroyed by the Britishers and Muslim invaders in the past. In the new century, we should follow modern values as well as our ancient ‘Sanatan’ culture and our ideology.
We should work to restore it as these posts and positions come and go. History has been twisted in the past as the role of Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose and Veer Savarkar and others has been undermined in history books and the people who didn’t even suffer a slight wound with police batons during British rule had been projected as champions of India’s freedom movement. We should also learn about the sacrifices of our unsung heroes. We want to revive this history and its being done now slowly and gradually