This Week Himachal Pradesh: Sure of victoryhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/this-week-himachal-pradesh-sure-of-victory/

This Week Himachal Pradesh: Sure of victory

If insiders in the party are to be believed,the Congress is assured of political gains till Virbhadra Singh is at the helm of affairs in the state

Sure of victory

If insiders in the party are to be believed,the Congress is assured of political gains till Virbhadra Singh is at the helm of affairs in the state. Back in the state capital after a hectic 25-day election campaign for the Mandi Lok Sabha bypoll — the seat he vacated after becoming the Chief Minister the sixth time — Virbhadra Singh seemed sure of victory. His wife Pratibha Singh,the Congress candidate,is all set to enter the Lok Sabha the second time,claim party leaders. She was MP from Mandi in 2004. Significantly,Singh,79,was not alone in the aggressive campaign. His son Vikramaditya and daughter Aprajita seemed more active than the Cabinet ministers,MLAs and loyalists. All eyes are on June 30 results,which may silence Virbhadra’s detractors in the party — in both Shimla and Delhi.

Settling scores

With Virbhadra Singh taking a public stand on alleged phone tapping,which happened during the BJP regime,the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau has received the Chief Minister’s nod to register FIRs — one in connection with phone tapping and the other against former BJP minister and now MLA Rajeev Bindal. Though,party insiders confide,Virbhadra would eventually like to settle scores with former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal,for now it’s only a few police officers,otherwise known for their integrity and ‘outstanding’ service records,who will be in the firing line in connection with the phone tapping issue.

Climate change

The Kinnaur district — known for its natural beauty,tribal culture and horticulture — stands ravaged due to unprecedented rains,snowfall and landslides. The district saw nearly 28,000 hectares of apple orchards totally destroyed,cash-crops washed out,hundreds of houses damaged,and all kinds of communication snapped. Twenty persons died,and the total loss is estimated at Rs 2,000 crore. The area,close to the Spiti Valley,has no history of rain and snowfall in June. This year,the rainfall exceeded 122.4 mm,which is 235 per cent higher than the normal. “Environmentalists need to suggest measures regarding this climate change,” said Principal Secretary (Horticulture) Tarun Shridhar.

No tax holidays

Advertising

With the Central government announcing extension of industrial package for Jammu and Kashmir,Himachal Pradesh is feeling let down. It’s also a good reason for the BJP to train its guns on the Congress government. A special industrial package,offering a series of tax incentives to new industries in the state,was withdrawn by the UPA government in 2010,three years before the end of its term. The package was sanctioned in 2003 by the NDA government. The state government’s repeated efforts to see extension of tax holidays till 2020 hasn’t paid off. Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri is,however,hopeful that Himachal Pradesh will be awarded with a package once the Mandi bypoll result is out.