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Modi draws battle lines in Himachal, calls Congress govt ‘Jamanati Sarkar’

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 3 October 2017, 18:06 IST
( Birbal Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi put the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) campaign in poll bound hill state of Himachal Pradesh into top gear on Tuesday, showering eleventh hour sops and launching a frontal attack on the rival Congress. The Election Commission of India (ECI) is expected to announce the poll schedule for the state soon.

Modi addressed a public rally in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh after laying the foundation stone of an All India Institute of Medical Services (AIIMS) at Kothipura in Bilaspur and an Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) at Saloh in Una while also inaugurating a steel processing unit at Kandrori in Kangra and a TATA Digital Nerve Centre in the presence of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

The venue of Modi's rally was Luhnu ground on the banks of Gobind Sagar lake in which old Bilaspur had submerged when the all important Bhakra Nangal dam had come up in the Nehruvian era. Bilaspur is the home turf of Union health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda who is being viewed as the front runner for the post of chief minister in the state if the BJP comes to power. Former chief ministers Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal also addressed the large number of people who had come to the venue.

Modi termed the government led by Virbhadra Singh in the state as a 'Jamanati Sarkar' (a government out on bail). This was apparent pointer to the corruption cases being faced by Virbhadra and his family. He went on to say, “I told the people from the Congress once that why don't they get rid of the corrupt chief minister and they said that they could not do anything because their entire party is out on bail. Their president (Sonia Gandhi) and Yuvraj (Rahul Gandhi) are on bail in the National Herald press case. Will the people of Himachal do away with this Jamanati government now? Till when will you tolerate them?”

He then went on to attack the erstwhile UPA regime under Dr Manmohan Singh pointing that during their time scams like coal block allotment, 2G etc came to light daily. “The question asked daily was how many rupees were lost. But now the question asked is how many rupees have been collected,” he said.

He played up the 13 projects being executed by the centre in the hill state at a cost of Rs 15,000 crore in sectors like national highways, petroleum, power, railways, urban development etc.

He struck a personal chord with the audience reminding them of his old association with Himachal where he worked as a RSS functionary and also the BJP in charge in the past. He said, “I have an old attachment with Himachal and always want to do a little more for the state.”

Referring to the AIIMS project in Bilaspur, he underlined that the super specialty hospital would not only cater to the needs of locals but would also boost the confidence of tourists coming to the hill state. Modi also pointed that the project would also provide indirect employment to a large number of people.

Talking about the IIIT venture, he said, “This is not just a new building or a college but the beginning of a new and a modern era in Himachal.”

He again took on the previous UPA regime at the centre while talking about the steel processing unit that he had inaugurated saying that the starting of the project that was to come up at a cost of a mere Rs 70 crore had been held up for seven years in the tussle between various departments. “That was a weak government, a multiple government where one was run by the other with a remote. I am clearing projects worth several lakhs of crores that have been held up.”

Modi then went on to address ex-servicemen who constitute a high number of voters in Himachal. He said that it was the BJP government under him that addressed their demand for One Rank One Pension (OROP). “Three installments worth Rs 8500 crores have been paid and the fourth one will be paid soon. It does put some financial burden on the government but our Jawans are my priority,” he said.

The Prime Minister while donning the role of a 'Dream Merchant' also tried to play up the Saubhagya Yojana that aims at total electrification in the country along with the Indradhanush Yojana that aims at immunising all the children who are left out of various vaccination campaigns of the government. He also thanked the people of Himachal for taking a lead in the Swachhta campaign. However, unlike his last rally in Shimla in April this year, he neither touched upon the issue of demonetisation nor did he make any reference to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). There is a palpable unrest among the masses on both these issues and those agitated include the small traders who constitute the core support base of the BJP.

A spokesperson of the Virbhadra government said that the CM was quite worried over the delay in laying foundation stone of AIIMS as several times he had expressed his concern for it. Time and again he had urged Nadda and even Modi to speed up the process for setting up the pioneer health institution in the state. Virbhadra hoped that the institution will come up soon in near future to provide succour to the people of the state and thanked Modi for laying its foundation stone. He urged for getting it completed at the earliest so that the people get quality health services at their door-step.

First published: 3 October 2017, 18:06 IST