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Himachal Congress leader pushes for law on transparency for lawmakers

Former Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu.
Vikas VasudevaJanuary 23, 2022 17:59 IST
Updated: January 23, 2022 22:21 IST

Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, former president of Himachal unit of Congress, to introduce bill to make declaration of income sources mandatory for all elected representatives.

Ahead of Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, due in the later half of this year, senior Congress leader and former president of the the State unit Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu is batting to bring in new legislation to ensure complete transparency in public life from all legislators.

Mr. Sukhu, MLA from Nadaun in Hamirpur district of the State said he would be seeking permission from the Speaker to present a private member Bill in the upcoming budget session, which envisages that any elected representative, be it the Chief Minister, Ministers or the MLA’s, should compulsorily be asked to provide details of their income and more importantly the source of that income and place it in in public domain. Pointing out that corruption among other issues is going to be a key issue in the upcoming Assembly elections, it is important that all legislators come forward and support this law, he said.

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How serious is corruption as an electoral issue in Himachal Pradesh ahead of Assembly polls?

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I firmly believe that leaders, who are in public life should have a clean image. And for this, it’s important that there should be complete transparency in their conduct. I would be seeking permission from the Speaker of Himachal Pradesh Assembly to present a private member Bill in the upcoming Budget session. This law envisages that any elected representative, be it the Chief Minister, Ministers, or the MLA’s, they should compulsorily be asked to provide details of their income and more importantly the source of that income and place it in in public domain. This will help in bringing transparency. We need to show the way so that people don’t point fingers at us and our work. If we have done nothing wrong, then what’s there to hide. Corruption is all set to be a key issue in the upcoming polls. As the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is in power in Himachal Pradesh, therefore, the responsibility of their MLAs to show the intent towards curbing corruption will be tested on this Bill.

Is the Congress party in Himachal Pradesh ready to take on the ruling BJP government in polls? What about factionalism?

After the death of former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, naturally, group politics was there. But the way during the recent by-elections to one parliamentary seat and three assembly seats, the ‘high command’ and I was able to unite the party, all apprehensions about infighting have been laid to rest. We won all four seats by defeating the ruling BJP, which was the result of the party’s united fight. There’s no group ism in the party now. There may be a small percentage of people who are not united, but such a minimal percentage has always been there, which is a kind of standing opposition that has always remained. We are all set to take on the BJP and I am sure Congress will win the 2022 assembly elections. All senior leaders of the party are already working on the ground. The recent by-polls were the first elections that the party fought after the demise of Mr. Virbhadra Singh and won all four seats, this was all possible because of our strategy and planning.

After Congress’s win in recent by-polls, how does the party plan to keep up the momentum going upcoming Assembly elections?

We are ensuring that the party does not lose its winning momentum and for this strengthening party cadre at the grassroots is what we are focusing. Corruption is going to be a key issue in the upcoming as we will corner the BJP on corruption in their regime. Keeping this in mind we are ensuring that we shall promote young leaders in every assembly segment, whose integrity is unquestionable and who are not facing any charges of corruption. We will encourage people will clean image to be at the forefront.

Our candidate Bhawani Singh Pathania who won the Fatehpur assembly seat and Sanjay Awasthi from Arki seat in the recent by-polls are fine examples. We have already taken up the matter with the party in-charge Rajiv Shukla and consensus is being developed. Our focus is Most In 2022 elections we will implement the vision of Mr. Rahul Gandhi and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and take the party forward. I am not looking for any post...

How do you assess the work of the ruling BJP in the State and at the Centre?

The BJP government does not have any administrative hold in the State. It’s the bureaucracy that is ruling the State. The Chief Minister is a ‘dummy CM’ because the State is being controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who indirectly runs the State government and the Chief Minister. The BJP government in Himachal Pradesh only follows whatever is being asserted from the Centre. The BJP leaders don’t access the ground situation in the State and take decisions. And this is the reason the State is witnessing sharp price rise, corruption, unemployment. The BJP does not stand a chance of retaining power in Himachal Pradesh. People are wise and have realised that BJP does not have anything concrete to offer apart from hollow promises. The BJP is only good at event management and nothing beyond that.

What would be the Congress party’s vision for 2022 Assembly polls?

Apart from exposing the misdeeds of the BJP, our focus would be on the issues relating to employees, farmers, youth, and women. Congress will bring a policy surrounding the revival of the old pension scheme for employees. For farmers’ benefit, we will ensure procurement of grains and vegetables at Minimum Support Price (MSP). Bringing policies, which will ensure that youngsters and women become self-dependent will be among our priorities.

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