Cases against me political vendetta, says Virbhadra

Cases against me political vendetta, says Virbhadra

Old warhorse of the Congress, octogenarian Virbhadra Singh has been chief minister of Himachal Pradesh five times in the past. Singh (83), is arguably the undisputed tallest party leader in the state, which is why the Congress high command has again reposed trust in him to retain the party in power. No government has repeated office in Himachal Pradesh, but Singh is fighting with renewed vigour. Anti-incumbency and corruption charges against him being probed by the I-T department, ED and the CBI have only compounded his misery. DH Special Correspondent Gautam Dheer caught up with the chief minister on the sidelines of his campaign in the hill state that goes to poll on November 9.

Q: What makes you confident of a repeat of the Congress' victory in Himachal Pradesh?

 I am satisfied with the performance of my government. We have done tremendous work, launched and strengthened various welfare schemes. Several thousand jobs were provided in the government sector alone. Several new degree colleges have opened. New roads and bridges have been added. People will vote for grown and development.

Q: You approach this election with a serious corruption taint. How do you see it?

Cases against me are an outcome of political vendetta. Three agencies, the Income Tax (I-T) department, ED and the CBI, are probing a case against me and my family. The BJP is frustrated and wants to pin me down. That will never happen. People can see through the intentions of the BJP. I will come clean.

Q: What factors do you think are working to the advantage of the Congress in this election?

Clearly, our development work and agenda speaks for itself. People are fed up with BJP's "fake" promises. Demonetisation and the rollout of the GST have hit the economy and people are suffering. They were ill-prepared moves and the BJP will pay for it.

Q: The BJP is banking on the Modi wave to help them win. How do you view it?

The people of Himachal Pradesh are sensible enough to appreciate good work. There is no Modi wave in the state.

Q: Why did you change your seat from your stronghold Shimla (rural) to Arki in Solan?

The seat from Arki has been with the BJP for the last one decade or so. We haven't won this seat in the last two elections. I took it as a challenge even as there were safer Congress stronghold seats for me to decide upon. I have been serving the state for several decades and people love me. My contest from Arki will add at least one more seat to the Congress' tally.

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