‘Sonia will decide... people have given verdict on who should be CM’

What factors brought the Congress to power?

Poor administration of the BJP government, corruption, non-fulfilment of promises. The BJP was busy in political gimmicks and framing cases against rivals; the police turned into a prosecuting agency instead of one to enforce law. A Rs 10,000 crore grant from the Centre remained unspent; this financial year, a grant of Rs 3,500 crore lapsed.

Did you expect such an impressive victory when some exit polls predicted a hung assembly?

Who is a bigger psephologist than me? I have been chief minister five times, an MP, and won so many elections. The day I came to Shimla after Sonia Gandhi made be PCC president, I sensed a strong anti-BJP sentiment, the people's mood for a change, and I only channelised it into the party's victory.

But you have been predicting more than 40 seats for the Congress.

I did not get enough time to campaign. Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had started the BJP's campaign almost two months before elections were announced.

Who will be the chief minister?

I have only accomplished the task given to me by Sonia Gandhi by bringing the party back to power. It will be her decision on the chief minister. A meeting of the elected legislature will be convened... People of Himachal Pradesh already have given their verdict on who should be chief minister.

If the party elects you, what will be your priorities as chief minister?

I have to take a broom in my hand and clean the mess left by the BJP, both in the police and in the bureaucracy. The pace of development in the state will be revived, roads will be improved, industrial growth and power sector will be given a push. Health institutions will also be equipped with doctors and other facilities and new environment protection measures will be initiated.

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