Updated: August 12, 2017 1:44:32 am
Back in Shimla after having been inducted as Cabinet Minister (Health) in the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar, Mangal Pandey, BJP in-charge of Himachal Pradesh is working overtime. In this interview to Ashwani Sharma, he speaks about the party’s broad strategy for the coming Assembly
You seem to have taken full charge of the party here…
I came at a time when [state] party leaders were just waiting for a blueprint to walk the talk on real issues. My first ground initiative, Parivartan Rath yatra, was successful. These days, our leaders are busy with ‘Jan samark abhiyan’. We have held Dalit swabhiman sammelans – an extremely successful exercise. ‘Yuva Akrosh’ rallies… you are seeing everywhere. We have started the second phase of ‘rath yatra’ in Hamirpur district to be followed up in Kangra, Mandi and Shimla. Every single Assembly constituency will be intensively covered, almost up to booth level. There will be a specially-designed vehicle ‘rath’ with all audio-visual means to reach out targeted booths for which digital and physically mapping of the routes has been done. There is so much more to come in the next few days. The Congress will not be able to match us in any manner.
How sure are you about meeting the ‘60-plus seats’ goal of the party?
Right now, I am not making any tall claim. Being in charge of an opposition party, my job is to see that public anger against the state government is reflected in the streets. Resentment is building up slowly. Did anyone ever think the Chief Minister’s effigies will be burnt at 68 places simultaneously or youths putting up locks at DC’s office? You will see women in huge numbers posing direct questions to Virbhadra Singh as to why girls are not safe in Himachal Pradesh. The recent rape and murder case of a schoolgirl has shaken the faith of every Himachali.
Why are you targeting (CM) Virbhadra Singh only and not the Congress ?
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has brought a very bad name to Himachal Pradesh. How can a CM (and also his kin) on bail continue to run the state’s affairs? Why should police or bureaucracy take orders from him? What kind of example has tried to set in ‘Dev Bhumi’? Look how a single FIR against Lalu Prasad’s son brought the government down in Bihar. I have great regard for the peaceful and gentle people of Himachal Pradesh. About the Congress, Virbhadra Singh has brought the party to its end. This, too, has made the BJP’s task easier.
What about ‘groups’ in the BJP?
That is Congress propaganda. Three months after taking charge of the party here, after interactions with all the leaders, I have not come across even a single instance where leaders complained or made any statement against each other. All our leaders know what the party expects from them and whatever duty they were assigned they did it perfectly, beyond expectations.
Why hasn’t the BJP announced a Chief Ministerial face?
This is not my mandate. It’s up to the party brass to take a call. But one thing I can say honestly is that there is absolutely no confusion in the party on this issue. When the time comes, a name will be announced. The party will make its choice known to the people. No such need has been felt right now.
Has any exercise started on allottments of the tickets?
The moment elections are announced, the party will announce its list of candidates. Right now, the party’s focus is only on ground work to expose the Congress government, its corruption, mafia raj, nepotism in jobs at many levels, law and order situation, insecurity among women and citizens because of collapse of administrative machinery.
Have you started work on the manifesto?
Yes. But this time we will not call it manifesto. It’s going to be a vision document as how Himachal will look in 25-30 years. The BJP (govt) will work to transform the hill state into a model of growth and development. Himachal Pradesh’s development will be put on two engines – one centre and other state’s own self -sustaining model ,a corruption-free, people-centric, responsive and accountable government.
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