Q: One leader you admire the most?
I've always admired the first chief minister of the state Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar. He was an undisputed leader of the state. His honesty, integrity, dedication and principles are unparalleled.. It's because of him that Himachal today is a state of the Indian Union.
Q: Who do you think is your biggest political rival in the state?
In politics you can have opponents, but no enemies. I have no animosity with anyone in Himachal and have utter regard for every leader.
Q: What is your opinion about former Union Minister Shanta Kumar? (who has been obliquely hitting at former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and had been appreciative of you)"
Shanta Kumar is a good man, who had completed his tenure with decency. He is the gentleman in politics. He has his own political ideology and I have my own views. When Shanta Kumar was the chief minister, I was the leader of the opposition. At that time, we opposed his government's moves which we thought were not right.
Q: Who do you think is a better leader - Shanta Kumar- or Prem Kumar Dhumal - for the BJP?
Shanta Kumar is their best bet. Prem Kumar Dhumal is a leader by accident. Though it's for the party (BJP) to decide whom it can bank on, in my opinion Shanta is far better than Dhumal, who hasn't led his party properly. He has used the entire party to protect himself and his family and failed to work for the welfare of the state.
Q: What has really led to the bitterness with Prem Kumar Dhumal? Was it because Independent legislator Ramesh Dhwala shifted to the BJP in 1998 and your government only lasted for 13 days?
In my heart, I have not bitterness for Dhumal. Though I regret his conduct, I have no personal enmity against anybody, including Dhumal and his family. In 1998, Dhumal didn't have the majority when he became the chief minister for the first time. There were two Independents who intended to join the Congress. When the poll results came, the winning candidates were busy in celebrations. I didn't have the right kind of people to approach them (Independents). By the time we approached them, the BJP had already whisked them away to Punjab. They were in literally in the custody of a BJP leader and "were kept under house arrest." Later, they were forced to join the party. Even then they did not have the majority.
Then they wooed Gulab Singh, who was elected on the Congress ticket, for the post of speaker. That too was a fraud.
Our candidate was Ishwar Das for the post. However, when the list was brought in the house, Gulab Singh's name figured first on the list. The role of then secretary of Vidhan Sabha Ajya Bhandhari was highly questionable. So the BJP managed to form the government with all these tactics.
Q: Don't you think that since past two-and-half-years, the state politics has only revolved around you both? (Virbhadra Singh and Dhumal both have been launching offensive and counter- offensive against each other).
I hate allegations. Despite Dhumal instituting false criminal cases against me during his two tenures as chief minister, I don't have any bitterness against him. I faced trial and everyone knows that I was acquitted by the court. After I became the chief minister, I had to order an inquiry into the chargesheet prepared against the government as it was mentioned in our manifesto.
There were many cases, but we selected only some of them. Many charges were against Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association. It was mentioned that land worth crores was allocated to the HPCA without following proper procedures.
It was also alleged that the Himachal cricket association, which was a registered society under the cooperative society act, acted without the permission of the registrar cooperative society whom the society was answerable. They clandestinely went to Kanpur and registered it as a society and nomenclature was HPCA-Himalayan player cricket association (HPCA). Now doesn't it amount to fraud?
And after some time, they dissolved the society and again named it as Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association and registered as a company. It was revealed in subsequent inquiries that the society's headquarter was not in Himachal but in Jalandhar. Latest inquiry substantiated all allegations made in the chargesheet.We want the HPCA back in Himachal. If they want to register it as a society under the state act, have an open membership and regular election, it's up to them. We want to encourage all sports, including cricket. But if someone becomes the owner of the land given to the cricket association, I am against it.
Q: Don't you both think that that public interest has taken a backseat in your political fight
The entire Himachal BJP is so much busy defending the Dhumal family that have no time for the general public. In sharp contrast, the Congress is focusing on state's development.
It appears that the entire agenda of the Himachal BJP is to protect the HPCA and put a lid over its wrongdoings. The Congress regime is steadily working towards the overall development in the state.
Earlier there were just two medical colleges (Shimla, and Kangra in the state. Now three new colleges have been approved for Chamba, Hamirpur and Nahan. Apart from it, AIIMS would set up in Bilaspur, IIM in Sirmaur and IIT in Una. What I'm saying is that while we are focusing on development, the BJP is just bothered about the HPCA. The Centre has curtailed funds for state. Planning commission has been abolished. Now there is this NITI Aayog and I am a member of it. However, without announcing, they are slowly curtailing the allocation.
Q: There are also allegations that you both have been promoting your families in the politics?
My son is already there. However, if he wants to enter politics, he has to fight election. If he doesn't want to do, it's up to him.
Vikramaditya became the Youth Congress president after election. The first time when he won the elections, these were set aside. He again fought election and won again. If he decides to come into politics, I can't stop him.
Q: With now your son at the fore front of the family battle, when will this rivalry come to an end?
Vikramaditya is not involved in this game... Arun Dhumal is no body and I think it is below my and Vikramaditya's dignity to take note of him (Arun). Arun is just a son of a former CM and no locus standi. He has only one talent - to hack bank account of citizen and to make it public He has hacked into my bank account.
Q: With unemployment on the rise, what has your government done to create new avenues for the youth?
We have been employing more and more people in various departments. We have regularised hundreds of employees. I will soon bring a white paper on employment. The previous BJP government did not pay them (ad hoc/contract employees) fully. I have regularised several teachers and panchayat secretaries.
Q: Who is to be blamed for the financial mess in the state - Debt burden has now increased to Rs 35,000 crore.
This is due to the 13th finance commission. Its recommendations had hit Himachal very hard. Dhumal was the chief minister at that time and my point is that he did not present the case properly before the 13th finance commission which resulted in a huge loss.