Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur faces his first big test after taking charge of the state last year. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) currently holds all four Lok Sabha seats in the state for which elections would be held in the last round of polling this Sunday.
In an interview with News18, Thakur spoke about the issues the hill state and the challenge the faces from the Congress.
The Congress in Himachal Pradesh has sought to put its house in order ahead of the election. Former Union Minister Sukh Ram is back in the party. What is the BJP’s strategy in the face of the Congress challenge?
In the last one year, I have been to almost all 68 Assembly segments twice over. We have sought to reach out to people across the state. So the connect on the ground and the experience that I got working as the state party president earlier has helped us immensely in these elections.
The Prime Minister in his rally at Solan spoke about the ‘Modi wave’ coming from each home.
The PM has a special connect with our state. As the general secretary in-charge of HP, he had worked very closely with workers for almost five years. Thus, both the people and party cadres have a special connect with him.
After Virbhadra Singh and PK Dhumal ruled Himachal in turns for more than two decades, you have got a chance to head the state. How different have you been from earlier governments?
We have sought to bring about a cultural change in HP politics by ending the cycle of what some people called vindictive politics. Earlier, when a party came to power, the first thing it would do would order inquiry into decisions taken by the out-going government. We have referred to the CBI cases like the alleged corruption in scholarship disbursal to tribal students. Most of the cases against former CM Veerbhadra Singh are sub-judice now so the state has a limited role to play.
Sukh Ram’s grandson is contesting from home district. His son Anil Sharma was a minister in your government. Was the party not embarrassed by the turn of events?
First of all, Sukh Ramji has been out of active politics for a long time. I held an election meeting in Mandi recently. Anil Sharma, whose son is a Congress candidate, did not attend the meeting despite being a minister in the BJP government. I think the message was loud and clear and he tendered resignation from my government.