Politics is in the very genes of Smt. Viplove Thakur who was appointed as president of Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee by Smt. Sonia Gandhi last year. Her father was a veteran politician. So has been her mother, Smt. Sarla Sharma who was, like her a Congress minister and State Congress president.
Amba Charan Vashishth took an interview of her for Organiser. She is busy organising her party'selection campaign for assembly elections 15 months away. Excerpts:
Congress has been in power for the last 45 months. Do you feel that it will bounce back to power again?
I?m hundred per cent sure. Congress government has done exceedingly well during this period. On being returned to power, Congress under Shri Virbhadra Singh brought back the process of development. People now feel assured that with a Congress government at the helm of affairs, their interests are in the safe hands.
What are the grounds for your optimism?
My optimism is based on two counts: one, our own strength and track of our achievements; two, the weaknesses and internecine fights ranging within our main opponent, BJP.
On our part, we are leaving nothing to chance. Congress leaders and workers have fanned out to every nook and corner of the State explaining the enormous development that is taking place in the State. There is all-round development and the life of the common man is much better under the Congress rule now. They are explaining to the people that BJP is torn between groups and internal squabbles. Further, the feedback we are receiving is quite encouraging.
Can you enumerate main achievements of Virbhadra Singh government?
One of the greatest achievements is that the Congress election manifesto was turned into a policy document of the government. Almost every promise made in the election manifesto has been honoured. In fact, we have gone beyond what we had promised. Our record in moving fast in curbing corruption, elimination of poverty, spread of education, providing better medical and health facilities is excellent. Our record in providing employment is excellent. We have made it mandatory that 70 per cent of jobs in industries should be reserved for local people.
You have been President of Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee for the past 14 months. What change have you been in bringing about in the organisation?
I have tried to get in direct contact with the leaders and party workers all over the State. I have undertaken extensive tours of the State and out of 68, I have already covered about 40 assembly segments. In the coming months, I will extensively cover all the assembly segments in the State. I have galvanized the party and energised it to face the challenge of assembly elections due in February/March 2008. I am receiving the assistance and support of every section of the Congress Party.
Are you satisfied with the present level of coordination between the party and the government?
Perfectly satisfied. The Party and the Government are moving hand in hand in realising the objectives set before us by our leader Smt. Sonia Gandhi. We are all together doing everything to come up to the expectations of the people.
What steps have you taken to ensure that there is complete coordination between the party and the government?
I myself and other office-bearers of the party keep in constant touch with the Congress ministers. We hold regular meetings in which the Chief Minister, Congress ministers and MLAs participate and there is a free exchange of views on government and party matters. We have perfect coordination.
What are the reasons that during the last 40 years the divide between the old and new areas has failed to vanish?
There is no divide between old and new areas of the Pradesh.
Himachal presents a shining example of two-party system ? Congress and BJP. Do you think it is a healthy tradition for the State?
I think so.
With a woman as the head of the Congress Party in the State, will you ensure that there is a greater representation to women at the time of allotment of tickets for the assembly election?
Our national president of the party herself is a distinguished woman. Because of her, more and more women are coming forward to serve the party. The women have a greater role to play in the party. It is the Congress government which provided 30 per cent reservation to women in urban local bodies and panchayati raj institutions. Because of these facts the Congress party enjoys a greater support among women.
There are reports of groupism within the Congress party in Himachal. What would you say?
There are no groups. The party is fully united in the State under the inspiration of Smt. Sonia Gandhi. We are one in our resolve to serve the people. Congress party will certainly romp home successfully in the next assembly elections. That much is sure. We all are sincerely and honestly working to achieve that end.