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Hailing the Army for its surgical strikes on terror launch pads along the Line of Control, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday said “earlier one heard about Israel doing such a thing, now the country has seen that the Indian Army is no less”.
Addressing the BJP’s parivartan rally at the Paddal Maidan in Mandi, the Prime Minister, who described Himachal Pradesh as not just a “devbhoomi” (land of gods) but also a “virbhoomi” (land of braves) where there is a tradition of every family sending a member to the Army, said the entire country was discussing the Army’s strikes.
Drawing loud cheers with his praise of ex-servicemen for providing “strength” to the new generation, Modi took a swipe at previous Congress governments at the Centre for delaying and misleading people on the issue of one rank-one pension (OROP) for 40 years.
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He said the earlier governments never did an analysis of the OROP cost burden and how it could be executed. “I did it and was puzzled to find that the economic burden kept rising. It worked out to be more than Rs 10,000 crore,” he said, adding it was difficult for any government to make such a big allocation in one go.
He said he spoke to the armed forces and offered to release the money in four instalments to which they agreed. “Over Rs 5,500 crore in the first instalment has been given. The rest too will be done. A promise hanging fire for 40 years has been fulfilled,” he said.
Targeting Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh where elections are due next year, Modi said BJP chief ministers were known for dedicating themselves to causes like drinking water and roads — Shanta Kumar was known as “paaniwala mukhya mantri” for his work on water supply schemes while Prem Kumar Dhumal was known as “sadakwala mukhya mantri” for his road construction works.
“Do I need to explain what the current chief minister is known for?” Modi asked the crowd about Virbhadra Singh who is facing corruption allegations. He said there were demands for seeking an account of the money sent to the state government. “Not only us, the people of Himachal Pradesh will demand an answer (from Virbhadra Singh).”
Recalling his old associating with Himachal Pradesh when he was then a BJP general secretary, Modi said the projects he was inaugurating were founded by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “I was also present as the organisation’s in-charge and who would have thought that I will get the opportunity to inaugurate them,” he said.
The Prime Minister also dedicated to the nation three flagship 800 MW hydropower station of NTPC-Koldam, 520 MW Parbati project of NHPC and 412 MW Rampur hydro station of SJVNL. Appreciating the contribution of public sector companies in the country’s growth, Modi said that the hydro projects will bring prosperity to Himachal Pradesh and other parts of the nation.