Former BCCI chief and three-time BJP MP from Hamirpur Anurag Thakur, who is the son of former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is once again contesting from Hamirpur as a BJP candidate. In an interview with The Indian Express, he says that this time, the contest for him is not about winning, but about winning with a larger margin than 2014. Excerpts:
Your father was declared chief minister ahead of the 2017 Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls. Yet, he lost the election. How much is his defeat going to impact your chances of winning from Hamirpur?
My father is a leader of the masses. Winning and losing is part of the game. He has built the (BJP) cadre in Himachal Pradesh.The reason that we have won (Lok Sabha polls) from Hamirpur year after year is because of the work of senior leaders of our party like (former CM and BJP leader) Shanta Kumar and my father, and the strong BJP cadre in Hamirpur.
However, my father losing the state Assembly polls in 2017 is not going to hamper my chances. In 2014, there was a Congress government in the state, even then I won by a huge margin (98,403 votes). This time there is a BJP government in the state. So for me, the contest is not about winning, but winning with a bigger margin than 2014.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Union Minister J P Nadda, it appears, are not in the support of you winning from Hamirpur.
Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Polling schedule, results date, constituency-wise results, FAQs, key candidates
That is just media gossip. They have supported me in all my endeavours in my constituency.
What is your perception of people’s mood between 2014 and now? What has changed in the past five years?
In 2014, people voted against Congress. But this time their vote will be in favour of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi for his works and achievements.
What is your pitch for votes this time?
Modi government’s achievements, my achievements as an MP, and national security — these are the three major issues.
How do you see Congress’s Ram Lal Thakur as an opponent?
Every opponent needs to be taken seriously. Our issue is to win the election by a much bigger margin than 2014. And that will happen, reason being the achievements of the Modi government, my personal achievements as an MP, my (decade-long) tenure in Parliament — all this will work in the favour of BJP in Hamirpur.
People complain that you haven’t been spotted much in the constituency and that you started visiting often only after your father lost the 2017 state Assembly polls from Sujanpur, which is in the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat?
I have visited every panchayat in my constituency several times. I have given my MPLADS (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) funds to every panchayat of my constituency. Can my opponent Ram Lal Thakur speak of a single achievement?
Are you planning to enter state politics soon?
I am happy with my position as an MP and I have been very successful in getting railway projects, AIIMS at Bilaspur, PGI, two medical colleges, IIIT, a central university. all this in one constituency.