You have been travelling all over the state over the past month for your campaign. What is your assessment of the public mood?
I have sensed a BJP wave. Even when I was campaigning in Rampur close to (Virbhadra Singh’s) the palace, there were hundreds of people out to support me. They were chanting slogans such as Rajwada shahi nahi chalegi and Congress ko hatana hai, Dhumal ji ko lana hai. This was in areas that are traditional Congress strongholds. For now, the question is not how many seats we can win but how many Congress can save.
The BJP seems to have broken its tradition of not naming a CM candidate mid-way through campaigning for you. There were murmurs about Union minister J P Nadda’s name also being considered. What changed?
It is for the party high command to name or not name the candidate. Only they can answer why they chose to name me. I have always stood by the party’s decision and have never asked for a post or even a ticket. In 2007, the party wanted me to contest the Lok Sabha bypolls and I did. Five months later, I was asked to helm the party again and I did that too. The decision of the party is supreme.
You haven’t been able to give much time to campaigning in your constituency, which was carved out only in 2012 after delimitation. You are also contesting against a popular candidate who is a former BJP member.
Many booths in Sujanpur were earlier part of the Bamsan constituency from where I have contested and won twice. I have got a good response from public so far but an election is fought till the last day. As for the other candidates, we don’t want to point out the negatives and look at the good we can do. There is stiff competition on every seat and every seat is tough to crack till it is won. We are contesting on all seats with equal seriousness.
If you are voted to power, what are the first few things that you will focus on?
For me, the first thing that needs to be improved is the law and order situation. We have some good officers who need to be brought in and those who have not done their job well need to be punished. The second most important thing we need to address is Himachal Pradesh’s financial position. The debt has been rising and will not be easy to tackle unless someone pays attention to the situation. The third thing on my agenda is restarting development work which halted under the Congress.