Updated: November 12, 2017 7:42:47 am
WITH POLLING DAY done and dusted after an extensive campaign, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is in a buoyant mood. “I may look relaxed but I am neither idle nor out of the job. It’s time to gain some energy as the counting of the votes will happen on December 18. I will be back in action soon with renewed energy. I am forming the next government, which is going to be a surprise to all of BJP’s top strategists. The BJP doesn’t even know that some seats they are certain of winning are coming to the Congress tally”, the 83-year old Congress veteran told a group of supporters from Shimla (Rural), from where his son Vikramaditya Singh contested this time.
When an enthusiastic young supporter suggested, “Raja Sahib, our next MLA (candidate Vikramaditya Singh) should get a Cabinet berth, he retorted with a smile. “Ah, no such recommendation please. First-timers can’t be made ministers. But I am certainly looking for a bride for him and will ensure that he gets married first before giving him responsibility in the government, such as the job of a Parliamentary Secretary,” he said.
The CM added, “What’s encouraging is that I will be beating the anti-incumbency factor. People talk about BJP and Congress swapping power every five years. But this time, our vote share is going to improve and number of seats will also increase. We will have comfortable numbers, maybe 40 or more. My doors are also open for Independents. A few are already in touch with me.”
One of the two factors that he views as favourable to him is public endorsement to development. “So much work has been done on roads, bridges, water supply schemes, health infrastructure, many new institutions and 58 new colleges opened…” he recalled.
Secondly, he says, the BJP’s “negative campaign demeaning Himachal Pradesh” and claiming that no development took place did not work for them. Their “personalised campaign targeted him on alleged corruption, he pointed out. He claimed that the BJP pumping crores of money in the campaign, and sending an array of Cabinet ministers , whose only agenda was to “spew venom” against him had generated a sympathy factor in his favour.
Virbhadra said his campaign was positive and they (BJP star campaigners) failed to distract from his focus to push his development agenda.
“What hurt Himachalis most was Prime Minister Narendra Modi using intemperate language against me. If I have been elected to the CM’s post six times, don’t people know my clean image, my commitment to the state and hard work? They are also aware that the cases against me are fabricated. These are aimed at finishing me off politically because the BJP sees me as the biggest hurdle in getting power,” said Chief Minister.
He said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a “real statesman” and never resorted to unfounded criticism of any chief minister of governments of other parties.
“Modiji needs to take some lessons on how Vajpayee used to conduct himself and campaign.”
On the BJP’s allegation that his government comprised ‘retired, tired and hired, Virbhadra said, “I have only two retired officers, T G Negi and Subhash Ahluwalia, who are providing me secretarial assistance. I have a right to choose my private secretary, as Modiji did after becoming Prime Minister. No retired officer is holding any key post that is crucial to the decision-making process. This is false propaganda.”
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