Congress veteran Anand Sharma said on Thursday Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was the natural choice of the party to lead them in the November 9 Himachal Pradesh assembly elections. He also rejected suggestions that corruption would be an issue against the CM as CBI and Enforcement Directorate cases were pending against him.
“Mere allegations of corruption against a leader by the opposition doesn’t make someone corrupt. Many BJP leaders have serious corruption charges against them. How about Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, whose son’s name had come up in the Panama papers or the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan? There are bigger money laundering scams of many BJP leaders. Have they ordered any probe against them, and, if not, then why have they chosen to do so for Congress leaders?” Sharma asked.
Sharma, who is the Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, said the BJP doesn’t have the moral right to make corruption a poll issue as the Centre had not yet ordered an investigation into the affairs of BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay, whose company’s turnover grew 16,000 times after the party came to power in 2014.
The Congress leader said only development would be an issue in the elections as the Virbhadra Singh-led government had undertaken a lot of projects in the past five years. When asked why the Congress always banked on Singh in the state, Sharma said, “We have many capable leaders in the party, but right now Virbhadra Singh has been given the command for leading the party.We have declared our leader, let the BJP declare its leader as they have done in Gujarat”. Sharma denied any infighting in the party and said the proposed ‘one family, one ticket’ formula would be decided by the central leadership.
The Congress veteran then turned his attention to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and claimed BJP had realised that it was caught up in a tough battle in Gujarat. “That is why the PM is rushing to Gujarat again and again, announcing new projects and launching schemes,” Sharma said.
Sharma said the economic slowdown, demonetisation and GST had dampened the festive mood ahead of Diwali. “The tragedy is that the government has no plans to restore the economy hit hard by the Prime Minister’s reckless decisions.He remains far away from the ground realities. At least 4.5 to 5 crores jobs have been lost, investment rate is at an all-time low, there is a sharp decline in industrial loans and the non-agriculture sector has not seen any investments. Exports have suffered badly,” he said.
Sharma blamed Modi alone for the economic situation and said trade, investment, manufacturing, employment were in constant decline. “His decision on demonetisation and hasty imposition of a flawed GST has severely hit small entrepreneurs and traders. Yet the PM remains unmoved, unapologetic and arrogant,” he said.