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There are pin-pricks but I ignore them, says CM Virbhadra Singh as HP gears up for polls

The Himachal Pradesh CM had announced that the upcoming assembly elections later this year would be his last.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2017 19:32 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Virbhadra Singh,Himachal Pradesh,Himachal Pradesh election
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh.(HT File Photo)

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, with a political career spanning more than 50 years, also holds the distinction of being the second longest serving chief minister in the country.

At 83, he is also the oldest serving chief minister of any state in India.

However, cases of alleged corruption and disproportionate assets has of late marred the image of the veteran Congress man.

In an interview to HT, Virbhadra Singh talks about a range of issues the Congress party and the chief minister are currently battling as the state goes to polls later this year.

1- What is your biggest challenge this time apart from the graft cases?

The challenge before me is achieving the targets of equitable development of the state. That has always been a pressure on me. There are some pin-pricks, but I ignore them. My foremost priority is welfare of the people and to see them prosper.

2- Opposition parties are targeting your government over law and order in the state, especially after the rape and murder of a girl in Kotkhai?

Overall, Himachal is a peaceful state. It was rather sad that such an incident occurred. Such incidents are very rare. The BJP and CPI(M) tried to blow the issue out of proportion for political gains and to achieve cheap publicity.

Prompt action was taken and arrests were made. Our police was competent enough to deal with the crime. Yet, on the demand of the people, I wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for referring the investigations to CBI.

3- Your opponents in the party have upped their ante. Bickering in party has come to the fore, as a group feels you did not promote second rung leaders?

There is no dearth of young people who can hold the reins of the state. There are many young, committed and competent people in the party. There is no bickering as such. The issue was flared up by the media unnecessarily.

4- What is your take on allegations that you promoted your son Vikramaditya?

He is an able young man and entered politics on his own strength. Unlike others, he was elected president of state youth Congress, and not nominated. He fought elections on his own.

On the contrary, it was the leader of opposition (PK Dhumal) who promoted his son (Anurag Thakur) and made him president of HPCA and also member of Parliament. My son will find his own way, he is competent to do so.

3- What do you have to say about BJP’s slogan “CM on bail, officers in jail and state on sale”?

It shows the narrow-mindedness of the people who have said it. It is a well known fact that the cases were politically motivated against me by few like-minded persons in the state BJP leadership.

On the contrary, the slogan fits PK Dhumal (HP on sale). It was during their regime that undue preference was given to purchase land in Himachal to many from outside.

First Published: Aug 17, 2017 09:19 IST