In an exclusive interview with The New Indian, Vikramaditya Singh, son of former chief minister late Virbhadra Singh, spoke at length about the legacy of his late father, a Congress stalwart.
With elections just less than two weeks away, Vikramaditya Singh, son of former chief minister late Virbhadra Singh, is leaving no stone unturned to bring Congress back into power in the state.
In an exclusive interview with The New Indian, during his campaign trail in his Shimla Rural assembly constituency, Singh junior spoke at length about the legacy of his late father and how he want to take his vision to greater heights. Excerpts from the interview.
Anand: You’re welcome to The New Indian. Shimla (Rural) Assembly seat was previously represented by your Late father Vir Bhadra who completed several projects. What sort of challenges are you facing?
Vikramaditya: The dynamics of this Assembly seat are a bit complex. There are both urban as well as rural citizens who reside in this constituency. Earlier, there used to be two separate constituencies but after delimitation, a new constituency was formed by combining those two – Shimla (Rural). So, our government made efforts to instil a sense of unity among people which was important.
We’ve done sustainable development in the entire Shimla (Rural) constituency. Vir Bhadra ji who was an MLA from this constituency had commissioned works costing around 1,500 crores for this area. This region has witnessed a balanced development where 3 ITI’s, 2 degree colleges, 105 crore Drinking water supply scheme, road construction projects, PHCs and CHCs have come up.
I got the opportunity to represent this constituency for 5 years. Despite failing to form a government, we made sure to raise concerns of this region in the Assembly in a constructive manner. Despite being in opposition, we’ve spent around 100 crores on various development projects in this region in the last five years. We’ve also brought out a report card where we’ve broken down the expense in detail for citizens because we believe in transparency. Now that the elections are around, we are making best efforts in our campaign to establish a government in Himachal. The citizens are disenchanted by the current government for failing to fulfil the promises. We are confident that Congress will form a government in Himachal. We will make best efforts to make Shimla (Rural) the No. 1 constituency of the state.
Anand: Your campaign posters read – “Congress is coming” while BJP is emphasising on changing the voting tradition of electing alternating governments.. How do you view their strategy?
Vikramaditya: Their election campaign is pessimistic in nature. It lacks vision, no thought. We’ve promised 10 guarantees to the people. If you examine the 5-year report card of Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, his dream project – “Greenfield International Airport” in Mandi is yet to kickstart. All they have been able to execute is sign an MoU with the Civil Aviation Ministry at Centre. The government lacks money to fund the infrastructure and acquire lands worth 1000 crores for the project. They had also promised about 69 National Highways. But, their DPRs are still not ready. No work has begun on that front. For formality state Highways have been upgraded. At the ground level zero work has happened. The same is the condition of medical services.During Covid we saw corruption happening in PPE kit and sanitizer production. Rajiv Bindal had to resign on moral ground back then. Today BJP is completely silent about it. Why don’t they speak up on why their state chief had to resign. We are going to the people with these issues. In the last six months, four elections happened – one lok sabha which has 17 assembly parts and 3 assembly elections. In all of them Congress won decisively. Despite the fact that Mandi is the CM’s home turf, Pratibha ji became a 3rd time parliamentarian from there and became the Pradesh Adhyaksh. Even at home, people are not happy with his performance. He is absolutely sure he is going to lose this time.
Anand: This is the first assembly election since Virbhadra Singh passed away. During this time you have also won the Mandi by-polls. How have you prepared yourself in his absence?
Vikramaditya: Today he may not be among us physically. But we will always feel his presence in our heart and mind. What he has done for the state, his working style and his contribution cannot be equaled. He will continue to live forever in the hearts and minds of people of Himachal Pradesh. We will take forward his ideology, the progress he made to every corner of the state. We will implement his Vision of developing all parts of Himachal we work to that end. We will implement the Virbhadra Singh development model when we form the government. We will take it to even greater heights.
Anand: Himachal is a hill state. Unemployment and inflation are its two biggest challenges. How are you campaigning on these issues?
Vikramaditya : Inflation is not confined to just Himachal. You would know better than me what the Dollar vs Rupee situation is. How we are weakening and now we stand at 82 rs against a dollar. What is the price of petrol and diesel, edible oil, and cooking gas? This is a national phenomenon. But as far as our state is concerned, we will try to provide some relief to people. We have given 10 guarantees to the people of the state, that includes Rs 1500/per to every woman, Rs 680 crore package to create self employment opportunities, which will benefit 1000 in every constituency. We will also make efforts to develop more hotels and homestays by bringing in more private investments so that we can boost jobs in private sectors. We want to enable youths in self-employment. I am also a youth. I understand their feelings and we will try to fulfil their ambitions.
Anand: Rahul Ji is on Bharat Jodo Yatra and he has held even a single programme in Himachal Pradesh so far. Is there any possibility of him campaigning in the state?
Vikramaditya: I am sure he will come here. He is on a very important yatra. The kind of environment prevails in the country today, the way poison is being infused into the environment of the country, the way people are being divided in the name of region, religion and caste, such things never happened in the country in the past. The real issues are not being raised by the national media. Rahul Ji is on a very important yatra to raise such issues and the kind of response he is getting in southern states has sent the BJP into a frenzy. But I am very sure that he will come to Himachal Pradesh if our national president and other leaders request him for the same. Priyanka Gandhi ji has addressed some rallies here. Our new president will also come and address Congress rallies. Together, we will make Congress victorious and complete the uncompleted works of the past Congress government in the state.