“People want Congress rule for Himachal” – Pratibha Singh (PCC President, Himachal Pradesh)
Banking on the political legacy of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Congress appointed Mandi MP Pratibha Singh as PCC president ,ahead of the state assembly polls. Three-time MP ,who lost her election in 2014 and stayed away from the electoral battle in 2019, registered her victory in Mandi during 2021 bypoll ,held after the death of Virbhadra Singh. Pratibha Singh is now leading the party campaign in the state . She spoke to Uday India in Shimla on Congress chances in the election
What are major issues ,which are likely to influence November 12 state assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh?
Failure of the BJP government during the past five years is the biggest issue. Beside this, the Old Pension Scheme ( OPS) has become a factor favouring the Congress. Then ,there is the issue of unemployment ,inflation and corruption. Actually, there is an overall failure of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The BJP has coined a slogan Raj Nahin ,RiwaazBadalRaha Hai. They are asking people to change the custom of alternating governments?
The BJP is known for befooling the people. The people are fed-up with this government. They want a change. The government has annoyed almost every section –youths, employees ,farmers ,women and left thousands of job seekers disappointed . We have issued a chargesheet highlighting corruption in the police recruitments .The question papers of recruitment of constables were sold for cash. We propose to hold an inquiry once we form the government.
What is the Congress agenda for the poll?
The agenda is development. We have given 10 guarantees to the people. One of these include restoration of the Old Pension scheme, Rs 1500 pm to women in the age group of 18 to 60 years, Rs 680 cr corpus fund for interest free loans to youths,five lakh jobs and 300 units of free power to domestic consumers .
The BJP says the Congress is known for playing vote-politics .The party never fulfilled the promise of jobs to every family and then employment allowance to youths.
This applies to BJP ,not the congress. No Chief Minister has done what Virbhadra Singh ji did for the state and all sections of the people.This time, the Congress has given written guarantees–not promises.
Do you feel the Congress is short of mass leaders like Virbhadra Singh ji ? It’s a disadvantage.
There is no doubt about this. Had Raja Sahib been alive the scene would have been very different. Yet, I believe the kind of love and affection he enjoyed from the people is very much reflected even now during the campaign .His blessings are with us.
You had won the MandiLok Sabha seat in the bypoll and three assembly seats were also won by Congress.
I feel the trend will continue and we will sweep the forthcoming election. The BJP had been writing obituaries of the congress after Raja Sahib’s demise.They are going to get more shocks when results of the state assembly comes on December 8.
Are you satisfied with ticket distribution in the party?
Yes. We have done ticket distribution in a much better way than the BJP. It’s also a fact, the problems cropped -up at some seats but we have been able to handle it. Few Congress leaders who got ignored in the ticket distribution had rebelled. I can tell you their number is very small .Few were persuaded to withdraw also. It was like the battle was half won.
Will rebellion in the BJP over tickets benefit the congress?
Absolutely. We will get advantage from the BJP’s rebellion in some of the constituencies .Our candidates are strong .They will take their seats on their own strength and beside issues highlighted by the party.
The BJP says it will return to power on the strength of ‘double engine’ Sarkar .
What a joke .The double engine government has done nothing for Himachal Pradesh.
Do you feel Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a factor in the polls?
Modi ji came to Himachal Pradesh very frequently . I agree Modi magic worked in 2014 and 2019 polls or also 2019 assembly elections. But the question is has Modi ji given any package to the state ?No . His visits in the poll will not matter much as the election was being fought on state issues and failures of Jai Ram Thakur ,not on national or international issues .
The Congress has not declared its Chief Ministerial face. Why?
This is a very conscious decision taken by the party to name Chief Minister only when the party gets two third majority in the assembly. Naming a Chief Minister creates heart-burnings .Once election results are declared , the MLAs will elect their leader and high command will certainly endorse their views .
By Ashutosh Sharma from Shimla