BJP confident of winning all four seats in hill state: Jai Ram Thakur

“It is very difficult for them to survive given the situation they (Congress) are in,” he told Harpreet Bajwa in an interview.
Former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh and leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur
Former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh and leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur

Former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh and leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur believes that the Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu-led Congress government in the state will survive only till parliamentary polls. “It is very difficult for them to survive given the situation they (Congress) are in,” he told Harpreet Bajwa in an interview.

Excerpts:

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won all 4 seats in Himachal Pradesh but in the by-election, it lost the Mandi seat. How do you see the party performing in parliamentary polls?

In the last parliamentary polls, we led on all 68 assembly seats. The then BJP MP from Mandi Ram Saroop had died followed by the death of former CM Virbhadra Singh. Pratibha Singh, Virbhadra’s wife, won that election due to the sympathy factor. The Singhs belong to a royal family and thus a major part of their erstwhile kingdom falls in the Mandi constituency such as Rampur and Kinnaur. We lost that poll by only 7,000 votes. Now the situation is different. First, there is no sympathy wave and secondly, it is a general election. Another difference is that Pratibha Singh has never

visited the constituency since her poll victory. Her son Vikramaditya Singh is fighting in her place and it will reflect against him, too. We will win all four seats.

On what issues are you fighting these elections?

The main issue is Modi, and the clear prospects of his forming the government again. The other parties don’t even claim to form the government. Our party’s objective of winning 400-plus seats will be achieved. The work done by PM Modi in the last 10 years and his image across the world will have a major impact on the elections. The other important factor is that Modi executed all projects in a seamless manner, be it the abrogation of Article 370, the construction of Ram temple or the implementation of women’s reservation and our economy reaching the fifth position globally.

What are the state-specific issues finding resonance in the elections?

The key issue is the failure of the state government, administratively and politically. The Congress government had a full majority. In only 14 months, it lost the only Rajya Sabha seat from the state. Then, 6 Congress MLAs and three independents withdrew support to the government. All developmental works have come to a standstill.

Will the Congress-led state government survive after the polls?

Going by the present situation, I think it is very difficult for them to survive.

As by-elections are taking place on 6 assembly seats along with the Lok Sabha polls, how many seats do you think BJP will win?

We are hopeful that we will win all the assembly seats. If assembly by-polls take place on 9 seats, the Congress government will automatically be in a minority. By-polls are taking place only on 6 assembly seats. Ultimately, by-elections for three other seats will also take place as independent MLAs have submitted their resignations, but the Speaker has not accepted them. Either their resignations will be accepted or they will be disqualified as they have joined the BJP.

Film stars have fought elections, and won. But voters complain they do little for their constituencies. Your take We cannot weigh everyone in the same way. The party nominated Kangana Ranaut after deliberations. The positive point about Kangana is that she works very hard.

There was resentment among some BJP leaders when Kangana was given the ticket from Mandi?

There were all ticket aspirants… now the resentment has gone and everyone is together.

The Agniveer and Old Pension Scheme (OPS) impacted your party in the assembly polls. Will they again haunt the BJP?

Both Agniveer and OPS are hardly any issues, though Congress will try to raise them but they will hardly have any traction. People are now asking them for the 10 guarantees they made including Rs 1,500 per month for women, 300 units of free power and 5 lakh jobs. No guarantee has been fulfilled.

The airport at Mandi was a pet project when you were the CM what is its status now?

It’s technical and other surveys have been completed. The state government spent money on it, and earmarked Rs 1,000 crore. The project is stalled since the Congress government was formed. The Rs 250 crore Shiv Dham project too stalled. The industry has run away from the state; this government has closed more than 1000 educational institutions also.

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