Tearing into BJP’s ‘Vision document’ for the upcoming Himachal Pradesh assembly polls, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Monday raised questions on the saffron party’s attempt to play politics in the name of martyrs and using the name of a rape victim to hoodwink people.
Sharma termed the ‘Vision document’ non-serious and said it was highly misleading, hollow and directionless. He said the document gave no hope to the state and thousands of educated youths looking for jobs.
The BJP manifesto, unveiled on Sunday, proposes to set up ‘Gudia Yojana’ to check crime against women. Gudia is the name used to refer to a 16-year old school girl who was raped and murdered in Kotkhai in July. The incident led to widespread protests in the hill state.
The BJP also proposed to form a Major Somnath Vahini after martyr Major Somnath Sharma, the first recipient of Param Veer Chakra, who hailed from Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh. The team will provide protection to citizens against thefts and check drug abuse among children.
The Congress veteran wondered how the BJP came up with a promise to set up a new Lokayukta in the state when its government at the Centre had not yet formed a Lokpal.
Sharma, who is Congress’ deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had started a helpline in the name of ‘Nirbhaya’ after the Delhi rape case and now his party had chosen to do the same gimmick in Himachal Pradesh to play with public sentiments.
“The rape case that happened in the peaceful state is highly condemnable and the investigation agency is doing its job, but driving political gains out of an unfortunate incident is BJP’s mentality, which should be condemned,” he said.
Sharma drew a parallel with the crime rate in Himachal Pradesh and BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan – which occupy the top two spots in crime incidents across the country. He said even in the national capital, violence against women were happening every day and listed figures from the National Crime Bureau to substantiate his charge.
The Congress member, though, agreed the Kotkhai rape-and-murder case had dented the image of the state. “There is a need to seek answers in Himachal Pradesh and also Gujarat as to what Modi ji has done to check crime against women Delhi?” Sharma asked.
Sharma, who is Congress’ poll in-charge for the state, also trained his guns against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making corruption a poll issue. He dared the PM to share the dais with Sukh Ram, former telecom minister, who recently joined the BJP with his son Anil Sharma.
Accusing the BJP of double-speak, Sharma questioned the source of BJP’s funding for the elections. “There are helicopters ferrying the star campaigners everywhere in the small state. That may happen in Gujarat also. Who is paying for this and what is the source the money? The BJP should explain this to the people of the state,” he said.
Reminding the BJP of its promise to create 2 crore jobs in the country every year, the Congress leader said the point was conveniently forgotten by the party in its vision document. “It’s because the BJP has no answer on its failure to provide jobs to seven crore youths,” he said.
Accusing the PM of surviving only on false promises and making meaningless speeches, Sharma asked as to how many “hawai chhapal wale” had travelled on the low-cost flight which the Centre launched from Shimla. “The fare for a seat is Rs 20,000 and not as the PM had announced at Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,000,” he said.
GST and demonetisation have been the Congress’ favourite punching bag to attack the BJP and this time was no different. Sharma slammed Modi for inflicting pains on the common people through the two measures.
“Till Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister, he continued to oppose GST. Thereafter, he took a hasty move to implement GST and did not agree to the Congress suggestion of having three slabs. There are six slabs, including one above 45 per cent. Farmers have also not been spared as pesticides, agri implements and apple carton trays are also taxed in the range of 5 to 18 per cent,” Sharma claimed.