Updated: December 18, 2017 8:11:40 am
Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh, 83, sunned himself at his Holly Lodge home on a cold Sunday, his wife Pratibha and son Vikramaditya with him, and chatted with a few Congress workers. The mood was sombre after exit polls had given the election verdict to the BJP. Besides, the state has historically alternated between the Congress and the BJP in every election.
“Is the BJP forming the government? one of the party workers said. Virbhadra, however, was “hoping for the best.” He cracked jokes and took a dig at the Prem Kumar Dhumal, the BJP’s CM candidate. “I have come to know he is already preparing a list of his cabinet colleagues. Let him win his seat first…,” Virbhadra said, bursting into laughter.
“The state saw so much development during my stint, people have no reason to complain,” Virbhadra told The Indian Express. “… I had so many eventful years. There was so much impetus on development in all fields, be it education, communication, infrastructure. A record has been set by the Congress in ruling a state. Is this a small achievement? Why would people not vote for me? I am hopeful the results will be favourable,” he said.
“If we win Himachal, it would be our gift to Rahul Gandhi who took over as president of the party Saturday,” the CM added. “If not, then we will sit in the Opposition. Victory and defeat are part of this game. My victory is the people’s immense love and confidence in me. I am keeping my fingers crossed.” With Virbhadra having already announced that this would be his last election, his supporters feel he should be CM one last time. “Agar sarkar nahi banti to assembly to jayenge hi (Even if we do not form the government, we will certainly go to the assembly),” Virbhadra said. “I will retire from active politics; I will not contest any elections after this. But I will guide the workers of my party. I will remain a soldier of the Congress.”
Is he anxious? “Why should I be anxious?” he said. Has he any regrets? “I have no regrets. I have had a very eventful political career. I am leaving behind a strong legacy. I am a very happy and satisfied man.” A feeling prevails in Virbhadra’s camp that the party leadership had left him and his senior colleagues on their own after declaring him CM candidate. Virbhadra himself did not grumble, however. “The campaign did not suffer,” he said. “I was campaigning all over the state. I got just two days for my own constituency. Not two days, just two visits.”
Did most his colleagues not stay away from the campaign? Rather than dwell on all of them, Virbhadra made it a point to mention only Transport Minister G S Bali, who is said to belong to the opposite camp in the Congress. “Who wants G S Bali to campaign for them?” Virbhadra said. “Otherwise too, he is of no help. He is best confined to his own constituency.”
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