It would indeed be a moment of glory for the people of Himachal Pradesh when the new Vidhan Sabha Bhawan constructed at a cost of Rs. 7 crore at Sidhbari (Tapovan) near Dharamsala will be dedicated to them on 25th December as a New Year gift especially to the people of lower areas of the State. The people of lower areas would be the direct beneficiaries of this institution. They will now reap the benefits of an annual meeting of Vidhan Sabhas besides the winter sojourn of government.
Gangu Ram Musafir, Speaker, H.P. Vidhan Sabha in the presence ofÂ Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister will formally inaugurate the first phase of Bhawan constructed in a record time of seven months. It would be pertinent to mention that the foundation stone of this Bhawan was laid on 14th February, 2006. The new building would have an area of over 35,000 sq. ft.
Present Vidhan Sabha is the 10th Vidhan Sabha of Himachal Pradesh. For the first time in the history of Himachal Pradesh, Vidhan Sabha session was held outside the State Capital, Shimla at Dharamsala in Prayas Bhawan from 26th to 29th December, 2005. This year the Winter Session of HP Vidhan Sabha will be held in the new building from 26th to 29th December 2007.
This would enable people of Kangra and other adjoining districts will be immensely benefited as the government will be based at Dharamsala. This will provide opportunity to people to get their grievances redressed at the earliest during the sessions.
Kangra came under the direct control of the British Rule in 1846 which established Dharamsala, as a European cantonment in 1849 situated in the lap of majestic Dhauladhar ranges. It became the headquarters of Kangra district in March 1855. European divided Dharamsala into lower and upper parts; McLeodganj is known as the upper part of Dharamsala. Kangra was the largest district of composite Punjab till it was transferred to Himachal Pradesh in 1966 in the Re-organization of Punjab hill States into Himachal. The present Kangra district came into existence on 1st September, 1972 consequent upon the reorganization of districts by the government of Himachal Pradesh.
Himachal Pradesh came into being on 15th April, 1948 as a Centrally Administered Territory by the integration of 30 erstwhile princely States which included Mandi, Suket, Chamba and Sirmour and 17 Shimla Hill States. It became a part â€˜Câ€™ State on 26th January, 1950. A 36 Member Legislative Assembly was constituted in March, 1952 and Himachal Pradesh was placed under a Lt. Governor. In 1954, Bilaspur another part â€˜Câ€™ State was merged with Himachal Pradesh thereby increasing the strength of Legislative Assembly Members to 41.
The First H.P. Assembly Elections were held in 1952. Himachal Pradesh again became a Union Territory in 1956 and Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly was abolished. However, the Assembly was revived in 1963 and the number of Assembly members was increased to 43 including 2 nominated members. The first meeting of Himachal Vidhan Sabha was held on 1st October, 1963 and the continuity of H.P. Legislative Assembly is considered from this date. The number of Assembly members was increased to 56 with the merger of new areas from adjoining Punjab State into Himachal in 1966. This number further increased to 63 with the Punjab Reorganization Act coming into force in 1967. Himachal Pradesh became 18th State of the Union of India on 25th January, 1971. The then Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi declared full statehood to Himachal Pradesh from the historic Ridge Maidan, Shimla. The number of Assembly members increased to 68 after the delimitation of Assembly Seats in 1971-72. The number of members in the Assembly now stands at 68.
The historic Legislature Chamber has seen many vicissitudes of fortunes and has been an eye-witness to many an epoch-making event. The edifice was completed and was inaugurated by Lord Reading, the then Viceroy of India, on August 27, 1925.The construction of the building was started in 1920 near the Kennedy House which was built by the founder of Shimla, Major Kennedy. The Council Chamber was incidentally one of the last important buildings to be built by the British and completed at a cost of approximately Rs. 10 lac. The chair of the Speaker is said to have been gifted by the Government of Burma.
The Council Chamber, as the building has come to be known, change many a hand after independence. The Punjab Government was shifted to Simla at the time of partition and its Assembly held its meetings in the building. The day Punjab Assembly shifted to Chandigarh, the Assembly of Part â€œCâ€ State of H.P. had the pride of having its sittings in this Chamber. Before that it used to hold its meetings in Vice-Regal Lodge (later named Rashtripati Niwas).
Jaiwant Ram was the first Speaker of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly to occupy the chair. On October 31, 1956 when H.P. Assembly was dissolved following the Report of the Stateâ€™s Re-organization Commission, the Government Secretariat was shifted in this building when â€˜Himachal Dhamâ€™ (the building in which Secretariat was housed) was gutted in fire in mid 1957. For few years â€˜All India Radioâ€™ was also housed in the lower part of the building. The premises was restored on July 1, 1963 when Legislature was revived. The first Session of the Assembly after its restoration was held in the Council Chamber from October 1, 1963.
Des Raj Mahajan remained Speaker from 4.10.1963 to 18.3.1967 and 20.3.1967 to 19.3.1972, subsequentlyÂ Kultar Chand Rana from 28.3.1972 to 29.6.1977,Â Sarwan Kumar from 30.6.1977 to 18.4.1979,Â T.S. Negi, from 8.5.1979 to 21.6.1982 and 22.6.1982 to 14.9.1984, Smt. Vidya Stokes from 11.3.1985 to 19.3.1990,Â Radha Raman Shastri from 21.3.1990 to 17.8.1990,Â T.S. Negi from 20.8.1990 to 14.12.1993,Â Kaul Singh Thakur from 15.12. 1993 to 12.3.1998,Â Gulab Singh Thakur from 30.3.1998 to 7.3.2003 remained Speaker of August House. At presentÂ Gangu Ram Musafir is holding the Chair of Speaker of tenth Vidhan Sabha since 11.3.2003.
The Silver Jubilee of the State Legislature Assembly was celebrated in 1988. Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, H.E. President of India had addressed the H.P. Vidhan Sabha on 23rd December, 2004.
Press note viaÂ Himachal Info and PR Dept.