Will the BJP’s massive victory in UP influence Himachal Pradesh voters?
We have the cadre base to fight the BJP. The Congress organisation is very strong at the grassroots. The impact of UP will not be [felt] in Himachal.
The recent polls saw anti-incumbency in UP and Punjab. Won’t it affect the Congress in Himachal?
Wherever there are governments, anti-incumbency will be there. We came to power in Punjab, in Manipur we emerged the single largest despite being in power for 15 years. In Goa, we emerged the single largest. The Congress is on a comeback… There is no anti-incumbency in Himachal. No activist of the Congress has quit till date. Those who contested against the Congress last time as independents, they are applying to return.
Chief Minister Virbhardha Singh is facing corruption charges. Won’t these affect the party’s chances?
There is no doubt cases are pending against the chief minister. The matter is sub judice. No chargesheet has been filed against him for the last 4½ years. How can we say he is an accused? The BJP will try to exploit [this] but we will counter. There is a political part, a perception. Will that perception cost the party? Somewhat. But the party is fighting to counter this perception.
How will you do that?
We will go to the people and tell them that the BJP is making a scapegoat. We are already doing that and people are listening. The BJP may have raised the issue in the assembly but has not waged a major agitation on this issue for the last 4½ years.
Can you say confidently that the party will go into the election with Virbhadra as chief ministerial candidate?
Till date. All senior leaders and Virbhadra Singh will go for a collective leadership. The chief minister naturally will be the main face.
What if the court chargesheets him?
Let’s see. There has been no chargesheet so far. There are reports that the CM wants you replaced as state Congress president. Placement and replacement are in the hands of the Congress president and vice president. It is not in the hands of the CM. We have a good cordial relation with the CM.
The Congress is struggling nationally, how can it stage a comeback?
The Congress will come back. We were ruling for the last 10 years. Somewhere there must be some anti-incumbency. The vision of Rahul Gandhi… It will definitely show results. But it may take some time.
Will you repeat all your sitting MLAs or change some?
Preference would be winnability. Definitely, educated young faces should come forward. Last many years, we have been trying to bring them forward. In this elections also, there will be new faces.
So the “sitting getting” formula will not be adopted?
“Sitting getting” is not the criteria. Only winnability is the criteria. There is a probability [of some MLAs not getting tickets].
In Punjab, the party had adopted the formula one family, one ticket. Would you follow the same rule in Himachal?
The high command will take the call.
The BJP’s campaign will centre around Narendra Modi. How will you counter it?
There is no BJP in India. Only two shahs, one is Amit Shah and the other is Tanashah Modi. The BJP as a party is nothing. We are aware of that and have the strategies ready.
You have been campaigning against former CM P K Dhumal. But there are reports the BJP may project J P Nadda.
The BJP in Himachal is a divided house. There are two groups, Nadda group and Dhumal group. The non-projection of Dhumal as the CM face is a clear-cut signal.
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