Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat has said that this year the state Assembly poll results will defy history and bring back Congress with a majority.
Training his guns on the opposition BJP for engineering defections, Rawat said turncoats will not hamper his prospects.
Rawat also added that all corrupt leaders had crossed over to the BJP and therefore he had no regrets.
He blamed the BJP again for last year’s constitutional crisis in the state, dismissing all allegations of his culpability in the sting video that featured him.
Dismissing reports of any rift between him and the state chief Kishore Upadhyay, Chief Minister Rawat said that a big party like Congress was bound to have various groups and factions along with differences of opinion but by and large the party was united in its fight against the BJP.
Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:
Is it true that you are visiting astrologers quite often these days?
I was invited for a function by Amar Ujala where Bejan Daruwala was present. He said that I will be the CM and will continue being that.
Do you think that you need more luck this time to win elections?
I have always believed in hard work but sometimes luck also plays a role. If luck favours you then good, if not then you have to wait for a second chance. Luck and hard work go hand in hand – without hard work you cannot survive in politics.
In the past, the ‘paharis’ have always chosen an alternate government every five years. Don’t you think it is BJP’s turn this time?
Since 2002 this has been happening. But this time I am determined to break the trend. I am confident that we will win and form the government.
Why will people of Uttarakhand vote for Congress this time?
This time, people will be voting for a face. For the first time, the focus is on who will be the CM. BJP is confused and Congress is clear. Also, this time BJP is continuously targeting me. This also creates a curiosity in people’s mind, as to why the BJP is behaving like that with me. People will question why powerful leaders are trying to bring down the Congress government, topple the government and impose President’s rule. When the Supreme Court asked for a floor test, I succeeded. The BJP scuttled my budget report which was passed by the assembly and I had to prepare it again. All these challenges will actually help Congress win.
Now when you look back at the constitutional crisis that you had to face the previous year, fighting a legal battle and a political battle, do you think coming out a winner has helped you at in these elections?
Let’s see what happens in the elections. Right now I have the sympathy of the people because they know that it was unnecessary to topple down the government last year. When President’s rule was imposed the Supreme Court declared it as an constitutional sin.
When we hear your speeches in the rallies, you have been harping on one sentence – ‘ek mukh mantra ko saare balwaan milkar harane mein lage hai’ – your projection as a weak leader.
I am a CM of a small state. I am only a small man with a 35 inch chest. A PM is a PM with strong govt. It is very difficult to survive the vicious mighty force of a strong party like BJP. Why are they after me, I cannot understand. I am just serving my people. What I am doing is not sinful.
There have been multiple crossover of partymen from both BJP and Congress sides. Would you say it is a fight between Congress and Congress, as some put it?
Whatever has happened in the recent past, it is not good for state like Uttarakhand. Both sides have rebels which is the manifestation of the misdoings of the ruling party. They engineered defects in my party. It is clear that all of them have joined the BJP. Without the consent and concurrence or without the initiative work by the BJP, these defects wouldn’t have taken place.
Why is there talk within the Congress that all is not well between you and the state chief?
We are a democratic party and earlier too in the Congress, there used to be small groups within the party but they all were devoted to the top leadership. Even in Uttarakhand there are small groups. We always overcome these challenges.
BJP in its rallies has been highlighting your role in corruption. Initially they even showed your sting video, and then EC debarred them from showing it. Do you think it affects the voters?
My life is very open and everybody knows how the defections were engineered by the BJP. Defection was from Congress to BJP. In that sting, I am not asking to buy back something or some Vidhayak.
A place like Haridwar is seeing a triangular contest with the BSP. Do you think that they are going to dent the votes to some extent?
They will but I will win from there.
In the manifesto released by your party, you have said there will be re-migration by 2022. But analysts say reverse migration by 2022 is very difficult
Migration also is very difficult. From villages to cities, the migrants have been for last so many years. After the formation of the state, migration increased. Nobody took the initiative to tackle the issue. There are low opportunities in the hilly areas. In the last two years, I have initiated many schemes to increase production and employment. I promoted local handicraft, culture, and tourism. To an extent the migration issue was controlled. If I can increase job opportunities, we can tackle the migration issue.