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BJP will win in Himachal: Shanta Kumar
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | January 21, 2003 03:22 IST
Minister for Rural Development Shanta Kumar said on Monday that the Bharatiya Janata Party would sweep the assembly election in Himachal Pradesh.
Speaking to rediff.com, Kumar, who is also in-charge of the party's screening committee for selection of candidates for the polls, denied that the anti-incumbency factor would help the Congress unseat the BJP in the state.
"I am not saying that anti-incumbency factor is not there. But it is not as much as is being made out by the media. There is no way the Congress can win the elections in Himachal Pradesh," he said in New Delhi.
He said that the BJP would finalise the list of candidates by January 30. "We are already working on short-listing the candidates. The main criterion is the winnability of the candidate concerned," he said.
Asked if all the sitting legislators of the BJP would get tickets, he said the selection would be strictly on merit.
He denied that there was any rift between him and the Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. "We are working together and we will ensure the party's victory," he said.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his deputy Lal Kishenchand Advani, BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sushma Swaraj and Health Minister Shatrughan Sinha will be among those who will campaign, he said.
He said the party workers had been told to highlight the achievements of the government.
He denied that the party was in hurry to tie up with Sukh Ram's Himachal Vikas Party. "We will hold talks with him and see if we can have seat-sharing agreement. But we are not in hurry to do that. Even if we are not able to reach some kind of settlement we would not have any problem in winning from Mandi, Sundernagar districts, which are known as Sukh Ram's strongholds," he added.
"We have a good base in Kangra, Chamba, Hamirpur, Una and Bilaspur districts. We would need to strengthen our base in Shimla and Sirmor belt. We hope the infighting between Pradesh Congress Committee chief Virbhadra Singh and senior Congress leader Vidya Stokes will give an edge to the BJP," he added.
More reports from Himachal Pradesh