THE BJP Sunday rolled out its ‘mission 50-plus’ in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh by beginning a 22-day ‘parivartan rath yatra’ in four parliamentary constituencies involving two Chief Ministers, Manohar Lal Khattar (Haryana) and Trivendra Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand), apart from senior party leaders. The yatra began a day after the BJP’s victory in the Shimla Municipal Corporation polls — a Congress stronghold for 31 years.
Union Health Minister J P Nadda and the party’s state in-charge Mangal Pandey, apart from MP Anurag Thakur, also started a rath yatra from famous Naina Devi shrine, while Union MOS (Ayush) Sripad Naik and veteran BJP leader Shanta Kumar performed a ceremony at the popular Shiva temple, Baijnath in Kangra, to boost the party’s prospects in the district, one of the biggest in the state.
In Mandi, Haryana CM Khattar launched an attack on Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, declaring that “he (Virbhadra) could go to jail in the next few months once the court takes up the trial on the corruption cases against him.
He did not spare former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda. “One Haryana ex-CM is already facing a jail time and another is preparing for this. In Himachal, the CM is already under the CBI radar,” he said, while urging people to “vote for change” in the state. With state BJP president Satpal Satti and several MLAs by his side, Khattar addressed the gathering from Seri Manch of Mandi as he flagged off the parivartan rath yatra.
At Haripur Dhar in Sirmaur district, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said, “After Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand going the BJP way to endorse the development agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it’s the turn of Himachal Pradesh.”
Former Chief Minister Dhumal said the Shimla Municipal Corporation poll results and earlier Bhoranj bypoll had signalled the BJP’s imminent return to power. Speaking at the function, Nadda said the Centre had restored the special category status and sanctioned 61 National Highway projects, apart from providing hundreds of crores for health projects that the state government “failed to utilise.”
The rath yatra will pass through all 68 Assembly constituencies and is touted as the party’s biggest outreach programme ahead of the polls.