Millennium Post

Rahul will make good PM that country needs, says Agnihotri

Four-time MLA and former industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri is currently the Leader of Opposition in the Himachal Pradesh State Assembly. A journalist turned politician, Agnihotri made his own place in the state politics, emerging from a humble background. He is the most vocal leader of the Congress party against Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. Agnihotri spoke to Ashwani Sharma, Assistant Editor, the Millennium Post in middle of party campaign in Kangra: Excerpts:

A fortnight left for the poll in Himachal Pradesh, what's the Congress position?

We are very comfortable. People want changes. They are fed up with lies, meaningless 'bhashan' and 'jumla-politics' of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Congress will win all four seats. The results in Himachal Pradesh will be very different this time.

In 2014 elections, the BJP had won all four seats despite the Congress being in the power. What has changed now?

A/ It was Modi factor playing against all issues in the poll. People believed in him. They are feeling cheated. This time Modi factor will not be there to swing in BJP's favour, rather anti-incumbency against NDA will seal their fate.

But the Congress campaign doesn't look very well coordinated as compared to the BJP?

When people make up their mind to defeat the ruling dispensation they don't look at campaign styles. The BJP has tried to pull out all its resources, use money power and resort to every cheap tactic, ethical or unethical. We have been able to counter them effectively and make a dent.

What are core issues in the poll this time?

A; We are highlighting failures of the Narendra Modi government and his corruption. Whatever promises Modi made with the masses whether about jobs, building Ram temple, Ganga Abhiyan, bringing black money back to the country and teaching Pakistan a lesson have fallen flat. Modi also promised a lot of things in Himachal Pradesh. He spoke about apple import duty, National Highways and farmers' issues. The net result is zero. This time when he comes he should rather tender an apology to the people instead of seeking votes.

The BJP sees gains in Himachal Pradesh as being in the power only for one and half year.

Let Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur tells the people few achievements of his government. Because he has not done anything concrete as promised, the Chief Minister is bringing in irrelevant issues to the polls. His narrative is poor. He only feels happy to ridicule Congress president Rahul Gandhi and speak about him in poor light. What will he say if we also call him names? Their party president Satpal Satti has used abusive words against Rahul Gandhi and was punished by EC with a ban on his campaign. Is this the way the campaign is done?

What's your charge against the BJP government led by Jai Ram Thakur?

A/. At first place, Jai Ram Thakur was never a chief ministerial face in 2017 poll. It was Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was defeated at Sujanpur by Congress candidate Rajendra Rana. Thakur became Chief Minister accidentally. Law and order are in the worst state. There are 350 cases or murders an equal number of rape cases. An alleged rape case has come to light in Shimla --- the capital city and the police were trying to suppress it. Mining mafia is active. The BJP raised money from mining mafia thus there is no check on them. Drug mafia and liquor mafia are active more than ever.

But BJP is highlighting surgical strike and has accused the Congress of undermining valour of the Indian army against Pakistan?

We are proud of the Indian Army. They have always been made the country and people proud. You tell me who is saying "Modi ki Sena'? Are they not ashamed of it by politicising the army? People of this country don't have to learn patriotism from Modi and his brigade, who only spread lies and communal hatred.

What's Virbhadra Singh's role in the poll?

A/ Virbhadra Singh is a towering Congress leader, not only in Himachal Pradesh but country. He never worked against the interests of the Congress. He is campaigning actively even at this age. No one can match his energy, mass contact and popularity.

What are Rahul Gandhi's chances to be Prime Minister?

Rahul Gandhi has worked very hard. The Congress party's manifesto and his poll narrative have received overwhelming support. He has exposed Prime Minister and Amit Shah combine's corruption. He will make a good Prime Minister that the country needs. Modi has no second chance.

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