‘BJP ready for Lok Sabha elections, Congress in disarray’: Jai Ram Thakur
People know corruption is impossible under Modi’s leadership... The Congress has not been able to take the Rafale issue to the peopleindia Updated: Jan 28, 2019 08:06 IST
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur took office in December 2017 after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power in Himachal Pradesh. As he completed a year in office last month, Thakur spoke to Hindustan Times about his tenure so far and the 2019 general elections. Edited excerpts:
What are your preparations for the Lok Sabha polls?
We are fully prepared. We have held meetings of our workers from two Parliamentary constituencies and those with the remaining two in the state will be held soon. I have visited 64 out of the 68 assembly constituencies and our ministers are holding public darbars [gatherings] at the district level. In December, we held a meeting of the beneficiaries [of the Centre’s welfare schemes]. Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the meeting, which gave a momentum to our campaign.
What are the major poll issues?
The development that the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] governments at the Centre and the state [have carried out]… that the Congress is in total disarray will be an important issue. We have got R10,000 crore from the central government - for horticulture, irrigation, and tourism [sectors]. The previous Congress government was able to get only R500 crore. We have also started several new schemes for the people’s benefit… all residents [have been covered] under the Atal Ayushman Bharat Yojana [National Health Protection Scheme].
Is the BJP on the defensive over the Rafale fighter jet deal and farm loan waivers. How are these issues playing out in Himachal?
Rafale and farm loan waivers are not issues in Himachal Pradesh. A large number of people here do not understand why the Congress is crying itself hoarse over the transparent Rafale deal. It is an issue only among a few elite, who do not have much influence among people. People know corruption is impossible under Modi’s leadership and the allegations are being levelled only for political reasons. The Congress has not been able to take the Rafale issue to the people. Farm loan waivers are not an issue. The Congress has been unable to deliver on its promise of loan waivers within 10 days [of taking power] in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh... People know that the BJP has worked hard to improve the income of farmers.
How do you plan to address unemployment?
We have got R1,900 crore from the Asian Development Bank to create new employment avenues. We are also holding an investor summit in Dharamshala for the first time to attract the industry to the state. Adventure tourism is among our focus areas to create jobs.
How do you respond to the Congress’s criticism that your government has been ineffective?
That is misinformation. There has been no major controversy or agitation during the tenure of my government. In fact, the Congress leaders are fighting among themselves. The party is in total disarray. Everyone knows what happened at the Congress Bhawan in Shimla recently [when three people were left injured as former chief minister Virbhadra Singh and former state party chief Sukhwinder Sukhu’s factions clashed]. The Congress has no issues that it can to raise against my government and its leaders are busy fighting each other.
What would you consider the big achievements of your government so far?
The BJP’s new leadership in the state understands the ground issues well. We have taken our government to people’s doorstep and have organised Jan Manchs [public forums], where grievances are resolved immediately. We have taken several small steps such as giving subsidised gas cylinders for improving the lives of people and health insurance to all under Atal Ayushman Bharat Yojana. We have also decided to give a pension of R1,300 to all senior citizens above 70. We have provided R200 crore for road maintenance and the Shima-Parwanoo highway widening will be completed in two-and-a-half years.
First Published: Jan 28, 2019 07:38 IST