New Delhi: As Himachal Pradesh is inching closer towards Assembly elections, The Sunday Guardian talked to Himachal Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president and Lok Sabha member Suresh Kumar Kashyap to know how the ruling party’s prospects at the upcoming polls, its expectations and if the saffron party sees the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as a threat in the state which has seen bipolar politics since long. Excerpts:
Q: How are the BJP’s prospects at the upcoming Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls? What are your expectations?
A: We will complete the mission repeat in Himachal Pradesh. In the history of the state, the BJP had never repeated the government, but this time we are certain to repeat the government due to various reasons. The prime factor is the seven-and-half-years of Narendra Modi’s rule and the four years and three month rule of Jairam Thakur. Both the governments did a commendable job during the Covid crisis and had initiated multiple projects for the development of this state; people are happy and again want a BJP government.
Q: What are the main achievements of the more than four year of Jairam Thakur’s rule about which you will go to voters of the state?
A: First of all, let’s talk about the brilliant Covid management. Himachal Pradesh was the first state which completed the first and second dose of Covid vaccination. When the pandemic was at its peak, our state managed it very well. We increased our health infrastructure like increasing beds, ventilators and other equipment. Voters are seeing all this. On the issue of development and infrastructure, more than 6,000 km of road network has been built under the present government. These are our achievements.
Q: After the Mandi Lok Sabha bypoll and three Assembly bypoll results which came a few months ago, your main rival the Congress was claiming that the momentum is with them. How do you react to it as the BJP state president?
A: First of all I must admit, we have learned from the debacle. We are able to correct the mistakes. In the bypoll, Congress already had two seats which they retained and won an assembly seat by a thin margin. In politics, everyone needs to look at the present. The verdict of four assembly election results particularly our neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand had a major impact on our state. Afterwards, the Prime Minister himself came to Mandi and energized the cadre. The workers of BJP got new energy after this and are ready for a triumph in Himachal Pradesh.
Q: How are you looking at the entry of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Himachal Pradesh? They had won your neighbouring state Punjab?
A: I want to clearly state, Himachal Pradesh has always seen a bipolar polity, there has been no space for a third party. HVC emerged in the state, but finished quickly. I don’t think AAP will be a force in the state. Recently, all the important leaders of Aam Aadmi Party have joined the BJP including the state president, state general secretary, head of women’s wing, hence they have no scope. I want to add that the political situation of Himachal Pradesh is different from Punjab, voters are very intelligent and always look at the larger picture.
Q: If the BJP again forms the government in Himachal Pradesh, who will be the chief minister and what will be the agenda?
A: Recently, our national president Jagat Prakash Nadda visited the state, he categorically stated that the present CM Jairam Thakur will be our CM face and the election would be fought under his leadership. Our national president also said that he and Anurag Thakur are the state’s representatives in the national capital. On the issue of what will be our agenda if we repeat the government, I want to say, there will be zero tolerance on corruption, the government will further speed up the developmental projects.
Q: So, are you confident about the victory in the upcoming state election?
A: Yes, I am confident. Our Prime Minister has a long association with Himachal Pradesh, he was the in-charge of the state. People of Himachal Pradesh will again choose the BJP as they love the Prime Minister and are happy with the works of both the central and state governments.