Lone CPI(M) MLA in Himachal Pradesh Rakesh Singha on Tuesday said people were disillusioned with the BJP’s “anti-people” policies and will vote it out in the November 12 polls. Singha also said he has worked hard in his Theog constituency in Shimla and hoped that the voters will repose faith in him. The CPI(M) is contesting on 11 of the 68 seats, which include Theog, Seraj in Mandi, Shimla (Urban), Kasumapati, Jubbal-Kotkhai, Kullu, Joginder Nagar and Hamirpur. There are eight Assembly seats in Shimla, five of which are held by the Congress and two by the BJP.
About the BJP government, 65-year-old Singha said, “People are disillusioned with it. Their anti-people policies have adversely hit all sections and they will be voted out.” Even today, people ask for basic facilities, such as water, roads, good health and education, he said. “The neoliberal part of development is actually coming to a dead end. There is a sharp contradiction between people’s aspirations and the neoliberal part of development,” the Left party leader told PTI.
Neoliberalism favours a global free market without government regulation and businesses are controlled and run for profit by private entities. On restoring the Old Pension Scheme (OPS), Singha said it had emerged as a “big issue” in the run up to the polls. “Why is OPS such a big issue? When the New Pension Scheme came, we held a campaign in 2004. But at that time, people didn’t understand its implications.
“Now, the Congress is saying that restoring OPS will be among the first decisions they will take if they are voted to power,” he said.”But neoliberal part of development came during the Congress’ time…Now, that party cannot blow hot and cold in the same breath. All these issues flow from the neoliberal part of development and people’s pains today flow from that,” the Left leader said.
Singha also spoke about protests by apple cultivators against price rise and GST on packaging materials among other issues.”I have been associated with apple farmers since 1987. There have been two big agitations of apple farmers, during the earlier BJP and then Congress regimes,” he said, adding the cultivators struggle for their demands till date.
The BJP recently promised that GST would be limited to 12 per cent for apple growers.When asked how he sees the contest building up in his Theog constituency, Singha said, “I have worked really hard and people will repose their faith. We held a rally yesterday and the response was good.” In 1993, Singha was an MLA from Shimla constituency.
Theog, the constituency he currently represents, had earlier been a stronghold of veteran Congress leader Vidya Stokes. The Congress this time has fielded former state unit chief Kuldeep Rathore while the BJP has given ticket to Ajay Shyam. While Rathore may be contesting his first election, it was during his tenure as Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief that the party won a Lok Sabha seat and three Assembly seats in the bypolls last year. Besides, Congress rebel Vijay Pal Khachi, son of former state cabinet minister J B L Khachi, is in the fray as an Independent. Former MLA Rakesh Verma’s widow Indu Verma is also contesting as an Independent from Theog.