Even as opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been accusing him of making money illegally, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh has expressed his belief that the issue of corruption was given “too much hype” and was “not the only issue in the country”.
“The issue of corruption is not the only problem in the country, but it has been hyped to such an extent that it seems to be the only issue,” said Virbhadra, who was here to review the arrangements for All-India Congress Committee vice-president Rahul Gandhi's March 20 rally.
The CM said there was “no instance in history when corruption did not happen”. “India has a multi-party system and fingers have always been pointed at those in power,” he alleged, adding that he thought the issue would have a “minimal effect” on the poll outcome.
Expressing confidence that the Congress would win all fopur parliamentary seats in the state, the CM said he was “assured” that his party would register a landslide victory in the state.
On the Kangra parliamentary seat where BJP veteran Shanta Kumar is up against Congress nominee Chander Kumar, the CM said he did not consider Shanta a “formidable challenge”.
“He is not a super-human who cannot be defeated. Chander has done it in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, and we will do it again,” said Virbhadra, adding that he respected the veteran leader for maintaining a good reputation in his party and national politics.
Replying to a question regarding the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) possible impact on Himachal politics, especially during the Lok Sabha polls, Virbhadra said “it remained to be seen”, and that “he felt that the new party will not play an important role in the hill state”.
“However, I never underestimate any party,” he added.
The CM said that the performance of the year-old Congress rule in the state would “speak for itself” in the upcoming general elections.
“The Congress has greatly contributed to building Himachal. In the Congress regime, the hilly areas of Punjab were merged with Himachal and it was given full statehood. The successive Congress governments at the Centre always gave liberal financial grants for the development of Himachal,” he added.
Asked what would be the Congress's main poll plank against the BJP in Himahcal, Virbhadra said, “It is obviously the failure of that party's regime to provide good governance and corruption. They have been involved in grabbing land and government property,” he alleged.
On his backing Chander Kumar as the candidate from Kangra, Virbhadra said the other backward classes (OBC) formed a major factor in Himachal, and the party desired that one ticket should be given to a leader from this community.