Appeals to Himachal voters to reverse anti-incumbency sentiment

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has accused the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre of using the CBI to settle political scores, and said the BJP appeared to be fighting the agency instead of the party in the coming Vidhan Sabha polls in Gujarat.

Addressing election rallies in Kangra, Una and Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP leader hit out the Centre for failing to curb price rise and for rewarding non-performing Ministers and those facing graft charges with the choicest portfolios in the Union Cabinet.

“The CBI is being used to check the development in Gujarat, which is fast coming up as a model State in the country,” he said.

He appealed to the people in the hill State to vote for the BJP in the coming Assembly elections, and reverse the pattern of voting against incumbency after every five years. He assured development in states like Himachal and Gujarat, if the Dhumal government is re-elected with a bigger margin this time.

He praised the Himachal government for getting more than 70 national awards for various development indicators.

Recalling his long ties with Himachal and Mr. Dhumal, he said, it is his second home after Gujarat, and he was the party in-charge of the State when the first Dhumal government came to power in 1998.

Mr. Modi also made fun of the Prime Minister for not raising the issues of price rise and poverty and said, “The PM should be better called “Maun” [mum] Mohan Singh instead of Manmohan Singh.” It was impossible to guess what he thought of the state of affairs in the country, since he was always tight-lipped regarding most things, he added.

He said that both Dr. Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited Himachal Pradesh, and spoke of a few things, but it would have been good if they had shown some concern for the poor, reeling under a steep price rise. The Prime Minister should have spoken of his promise of bringing down the prices, but the Congress was arrogant, and didn’t care for the people, he added.

Mr. Modi said the LPG cap would affect cold-territory States, such as Himachal, the most. He said the Congress had stalled Gujarat’s initiative for supplying piped natural gas to the people, and he had been forced to move the Supreme Court. According to him, 20 lakh people would have got piped gas by this time, resulting in the saving of three crore cylinders. It would have also saved a subsidy of Rs. 15,000 crore.

He criticised the UPA for promoting a ‘non-performer’, such as Sushil Kumar Shinde, under whom the country had faced a monumental power crisis, when 19 States and nearly 70 crore citizens had plunged into darkness.

Similarly, Salman Khurshid, who is facing allegations, has been allotted the Ministry of External Affairs. He questioned the return of Shashi Tharoor as Minister, and Virbhadra Singh as party head, in the poll-bound State.

Mr. Modi alleged the Congress had left no stone unturned to dislodge opposition governments. He accused the Congress of misusing Article 356. It was also ‘misusing’ Central agencies and indulging in ‘character assassination’ of political opponents.

On Ms. Gandhi’s claims that UPA gave Rs. 10,000 crore to Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Modi affirmed that this money wasn’t her personal money, but belonged to the people. He was happy when Dr. “Maun” Mohan Singh said that there was development in Himachal Pradesh, but added the rider that it was all due to Central funds.

Chief Minister Dhumal has also refuted the charges of Ms. Gandhi and Dr. Singh of underutilisation of funds by the State government, and accused them of providing wrong figures of Central aid to the fund-starved hill State.