Fight & flight for the upcoming polls: Modi lays foundation for BJP's campaign in Himachal
Presenting himself as a dream merchant, a crusader against corruption and a desi Robin Hood, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation for BJP's poll campaign eight months ahead of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls. The Himachal Assembly's term expires in December.
Modi addressed his party's 'Parivartan Rally' at the Ridge after laying the foundation stone of a Hydro Engineering College in the state and launching the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) project that envisages low-cost air travel by linking tier two and tier three cities across the country.
His address was on the expected lines as he tried to build up on the recent BJP victories in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and more recently the MCD polls and said the winds of change, blowing from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, are set to reach Himachal along with the breeze from Delhi.
“This is the golden period of the country for honest people. I want every honest person to get promoted. Himachal is also looking forward to an honest government,” Modi said.
He then moved on to attack the present Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his government on the issue of corruption.
“A chief minister is spending more time in the company of lawyers. The youth does not want to compromise with dishonesty. Honesty is our strength,” he pointed out without explicitly naming Virbhadra.
Modi then moved on to play up his decision on demonetisation claiming that it was a blow to dishonesty and he is going to take the drive ahead.
“I have seen poverty. I have experienced it. I do not have to undertake a yatra to feel it. Those who have looted the poor will have to return it (the plundered wealth) to them. Not everybody is happy with my work. Those who may have been hit will not say Jai Sri Ram to me. They will not leave any opportunity to run me down,” he said.
Playing his oratorical skills to the hilt, Modi went on to take credit for the reduction in the price of cardiac stents and also for promoting the subscription of generic medicines to the masses at affordable prices.
He then marketed the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana to the people of the state where horticulture is one of the primary vocations.
“I am now talking to the companies selling aerated drinks to have at least 5% content of natural fruit juice in their products. The project has taken off in Nagpur and will soon become a reality elsewhere,” he disclosed.
Referring to the UDAN project that he launched from Jubbarhatti Airport, Modi said that the governments prior to his had developed 70 airports in 70 years after independence. His government has chosen to develop 30 new airstrips in just one year under this project.
“The taxi fare comes to Rs 8 to Rs 10 per kilometre and is a bit more in the hills. We have devised an aviation policy under which one can travel to Delhi by air at a cost that comes to Rs 6 and Rs 7 per kilometre and that too in less than an hour. I want that a man who moves around in a hawaii chappal also gets to travel in a hawaii jahaaz,” he underlined.
Modi said that the middle class, along with those in tier two and tier three cities, are set to become the growth engines over the next decade and will be the ones laying the foundation of a new India.
He also played up the issue of One Rank One Pension (OROP) in his bid to address the large constituency of ex-servicemen and retirees from paramilitary forces in the state. However, he made no reference to the high number of casualties in the recent Naxal attack in Sukma in Chhatisgarh or the terror attack in Kashmir that took place on Thursday morning.
Modi made a fervent appeal to the youth to move towards a digital economy and adapt to the recently launched Bhim app pointing that this would come in very handy as tourism picks up further in this hill state.
The BJP cadres had worked overtime to make the rally a success galvanising supporters from across all the districts by presenting Modi as the 'Lok Nayak' and he 'Rashtra Purush'.
The tone and the tenor of the rally makes one thing clear – that just like in other states that went to the polls recently, Modi will be the face of the party's campaign in Himachal also. The party will use his previous connect with the state to garner support.
And this was evident during Modi's speech when he went on a nostalgic a trip about his term in the state as party in-charge and also an RSS pracharak. He went on to name a few 'friendly' journalists recalling how he never had to pay for the cups of coffee at the Indian Coffee House.
“Himachal has a special right over me. It is now for you to extract maximum benefits from me,” he said.
Modi's show, however, proved to be a nightmare for the locals as the entire Mall Road, which is the heart of the town, lay under siege right from the AG office to the other end as iron barricades covered 80% of the stretch for his road show. The pedestrians only had a small portion of the road to walk on.
The eating joints along this stretch were closed and there was no business for their owners all day. A large number of schools in the vicinity of the Ridge were also closed.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen