Himachal Rivaz Badlega, Needs Double Engine Government: CM Jai Ram Thakur

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Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has a big battle ahead. The hills of Himachal have huge posters of PM Narendra Modi, making it clear the Bharatiya Janata Party’s biggest mascot is fighting this election for his party and for Thakur.

Ahead of his campaign trail, Thakur spoke to CNN-News18 about the elections, the party’s prospects and mood.

Himachal Pradesh will vote in a single phase on November 12 and the results will be out on December 8.

Edited excerpts:

It is clear that PM Modi is campaigning for the BJP again. He’s the biggest face. We saw that in Uttarakhand, the election was fought by Narendra Modi ji. The CM lost, but the BJP won in Uttarakhand, with a huge margin. And here he is campaigning for you…
Narendra Modi is a name that is not only in the heart of our country today, but the name has an identity internationally as well. As far as the elections are concerned, we can’t imagine going forward without his face and name. He has left such an impression on people that we are fortunate that we get results just on his name. The whole campaign in Himachal is going on in full-swing and the great thing is that Himachal loves Modi ji. He has an amazing connection with Himachal because he worked here and he is emotionally connected with Himachal Pradesh.

We saw some posters. On the one end, there’s Narendra Modi’s face and on the other, there is Congress’s hand. If the BJP wins, you will become the CM again. My question to you is that you will offer 125 units of free electricity if you win. Is this not revadi that PM Modi himself is opposed to?
We can’t look at this as revadi. We have provided relief to one section. We observed things very carefully. In HP, a poor household consumes 50-60 units of electricity. This means, whoever has three-four bulbs in their house takes up 50-60 units of electricity. And the middle-class consumes 100-120 units. Himachal Pradesh contributes 11,000 megawatts to the 45,000 megawatts produced in the country. As a power state, we work on a lot of things, so we decided to give relief to one section of society. Giving 300 units is revadi. But 125 units is the requirement for the section that is below the middle class and we just decided to help them.

Giving 300 units is revadi. But 125 units is the requirement for the section that is below the middle class. We just decided to help them.

The Congress has promised 1 lakh government jobs in Himachal. What is your counter?
They say this before every election. Before the 2012 elections, they promised government jobs to one person in every household. They were in power for five years. Did they do that? They said they will provide jobs to the unemployed. Did they do that?

You’re saying that these are just empty promises?
People don’t believe what the Congress says. They released their manifesto, but people just threw it in the bin. I asked some people whether they read the Congress’s manifesto and they said there’s no point reading it because they won’t do anything.

But unemployment is an issue. It is an important issue that concerns you.
Definitely, it is an issue. And it is a global issue. Price rise and unemployment are global issues as well. And they are the issues in every election. But despite this, we have done good work to provide employment to the youth. We provided employment to 60,000 youngsters in the past five years despite the pandemic.

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We can see a sense of entrepreneurship here. We can see a culture of start-ups now in Himachal, so how are you promoting that in the form of eco-tourism? What is the big takeaway on the start-up front?
There are a couple of things. Firstly, we have accepted and everyone else too needs to accept that we can’t provide a government job to every unemployed person. To help them stand on their feet, we have started a ‘Mukhyamantri Swaab Number Yojana’, where we give a loan of Rs 1 crore. If a young person wants a loan, we give them 25% subsidy, and if it is a woman or a widow, we give 35% subsidy. This scheme caught up and people now want to build their own start-ups or have already started their start-ups. Ever since we started this scheme, 10,000 people have gotten employed. When someone starts their own business, they hire 20-25 people. This scheme has been beneficial.

HM Shri @AmitShah addresses public meeting in Karsog, Himachal Pradesh. #HarGharBhajpa https://t.co/xK2RWWirGZ

— BJP (@BJP4India) November 1, 2022

What about the concerns of apple-growers over inadequate returns?
This issue is purely political. Apple-growers are fine and we are getting their support. I am from that category. All I have to say that don’t fall into the Congress’s trap. The only problem they were facing was that the goods and services tax (GST) on the packaging material went up to 6% and it was a decision made by the GST Council. Every state CM and finance ministers attend it. We proposed that if you think that the packaging material is too expensive, we will bear the cost. We developed this mechanism and I don’t think there are any other issues. The rest of the issues are about soil and fertilisers. Those issues are small and we have found ways to deal with them.

ALSO READ | ​Discontent Among Himachal Pradesh Orchardists Grows, Will they Upset BJP’s Apple Cart in Elections?

You are confident that this is localised…
Localised or particularly the Congress is looking to make the issue political. This is not a subject and it won’t have an impact.

ALSO READ | ​BJP Set for History in Himachal, Will Contest If Party Asks Me to, Ex-CM PK Dhumal Tells News18

My last question is about your phrase ‘rivaz badlega’. Himachal has the tradition of changing the government. What will happen this time on December 8?
On ‘rivaz badlega’, the day PM completed eight years, he had come to Shimla and guided the Pradesh. I said this phrase and the media took it as a slogan and punchline for the election. I had said some things in Himachal Pradesh are like old traditions. When we came to power we realised that earlier governments would first cancel the yojanas of previous governments and order change in netas and officials. We said this rivaz is not good for Himachal, we need to change it. If something is wrong, we will investigate it, but to register cases in the first cabinet out of a feeling of political revenge is not good. So, we started changing the rivaz from there…

In many parts, the government would change every five years. In Uttarakhand the government used to change and in UP too…so the rivaz has changed. In Himachal, too, the rivaz will change this time. PM Modi, while addressing Himachal, said it needs a permanent government, a strong government which can go together with the central government and him. Himachal needs a double engine government.

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