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POLITICAL JOURNEY

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Vijay Darda joined politics in 1998 after his father Mr. Jawaharlal Darda's death and his very entry into politics created ripples. The reason was obvious. Vijay Darda was keen on entering Rajya Sabha on Congress nomination. However, the party denied him a ticket at that time. Despite this, he entered the fray as an independent candidate and won the seat. He felt the timing was important from his perspective given his age and the transition he was making from business to politics. His rapport with the state legislators and their belief in his capabilities, credibility, conviction and character helped in securing this victory. It is noteworthy that at that time almost every political party had tried to lure Vijay Darda to its fold both before and after the elections. However, he resolutely stood his ground and decided to work as an associate member of Congress party in the Rajya Sabha.

The Darda clan is a Congress loyalist because they firmly believe that only Congress can provide a model government and alleviate the woes of the common man. This was tested during political upheavals when the family stood steadfastly behind Congress party and now Vijay Darda too is taking forward this legacy. In the subsequent elections to the Rajya Sabha in 2004, the Congress party offered Vijay Darda the party ticket from Maharashtra. At that point of time, the Congress party had lot of internal squabbles. But Darda successfully brought all groups together and ensured election victory. Over the years, he has assumed the role of a political fire fighter in the Vidarbha region.

In fact, Vijay Darda has perfected a different brand of development-oriented politics. He believes in carrying forward societal good along with politics. Take for example the proposed Wardha-Yavatmal-Nanded rail link for which Darda is unquestionably credited with. He pursued the project relentlessly for 10 years with different railway ministers and also convinced the Maharashtra government to bear 40 per cent of the project cost. No one can deny that when this ambitious project is completed, Vidarbha's economy is sure to witness a big revolution and it will help remove region's developmental backlog. Similarly, he championed the project of building an airport at Yavatmal in order to give incentive to the industrialists to set up their industries in the region.

As a parliamentarian, he gave special emphasis on the modernization and development of the Government Medical College at Yavatmal. Darda has utilized his Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds efficiently thereby leading to innumerable public interest projects such as roads, irrigation, water pumps, schools, community halls, libraries, etc. Commenting on this, a senior Congress worker and party functionary from Yavatmal says, “Even though he belongs to the Congress party, he never differentiates politically where development of the region is concerned. In 2009, he distributed his MPLADS funds equally among all wards of Yavatmal even though the corporators of those wards belonged to different parties.”

Darda belongs to the Yavatmal district, which has become infamous for farmers' suicides. Darda understood the basic reasons for farmers' suicides and organised the Atmanirbharta Yatra (self-reliance rally) through the Lokmat Krishi Manch. The main aim was to infuse confidence among farmers and dissuade them from committing suicide. This initiative sent a very positive message among the farmers.

The development-oriented model of politics has made Darda popular among opposition parties too. He basically likes to meet people and resolve their problems. Gifted with an astounding memory, Darda knows several thousand people by their first names. He is equally at ease with an industrialist as much as he is with his schoolmate.

While he is concerned with expansion of his newspapers, he is equally worried over how Congress would gain strength in his state. In the Congress centenary celebrations, late Indira Gandhi had termed Lokmat as her weapon in Maharashtra. Vijay Darda is taking forward this grand legacy with great loyalty.

Vijay Darda has been a member of the Rajya Sabha (upper House of Parliament) since 1998. Parliament to him is the country's highest democratic forum, which has the immense power and potential to ensure the well being of the common man. He has always used the varied parliamentary devices to raise the issues of vital national importance. His speeches in Parliament are always substantive and meaningful. His wide experience in professional and public life has enabled him to speak on subjects as diverse as agriculture and industry, governance and social welfare.

The flow and clarity of thought, articulated in easy and simple language, invariably ensured that all sections of the House heard him with seriousness. His keenness to utilize the forum of Parliament to serve the best interests of the common man is the hallmark of his parliamentary life. Even during his foreign visits he always acted as an ambassador of India and promoted Indian tradition, culture and values in foreign countries.