With just four days to go for the Himachal Pradesh elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi upped the ante against the Congress and said the party and corruption were inseparable. Taking a dig at Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, the Prime Minister said Congress leaders out on bail were now giving lectures on tackling corruption. “Congress and corruption are inseparable, they are like a tree and its roots. Their leaders are out on bail and they are speaking about putting a check on corruption,” Modi said while addressing a gathering at his ‘Parivartan’ rally in Kullu.
The Enforcement Directorate has registered a case against Singh after a probe found he had accumulated assets disproportionate to his known sources of income during his tenure as the Union Steel Minister from 2009 to 2011.
Campaigning for the third day in a row in the poll-bound state, PM Modi said the election was not being fought by the BJP, but the people of Himachal who were out to “teach” a lesson to the Congress for corruption and poor law and order. “For 70 years, Congress ruled the country but they were only involved in corruption, spreading lies, casteism and nepotism. This time the election is being fought by the people of the state who have decided to teach a lesson to Congress’s ‘Sultanate’,” Modi said.
Urging the people to vote for change on November 9, Modi said the state would once again celebrate Diwali on December 18 when results would be announced. “I urge people to elect a BJP government with a 3/4th majority,” he said.
The Congress has attacked the Centre over its economic policies – mainly demonetisation and GST – and has made the issues its centrepiece in election campaigns. BJP, on the other hand, has decided to fight the election on its ‘development’ agenda. “Our focus is on ‘Vikas’. Only development is the solution to all the troubles and will take the nation to greater heights,” Modi reiterated on Sunday.
Referring to Congress’ plans to observe November 8 (the first anniversary of demonetisation) as ‘black day, the PM said, “Congress is going to mourn in the upcoming week, it is natural because they have nothing left now except to grieve.” “Former PM Indira Gandhi refused to carry out note ban. Had she done it when needed, I would not have had to carry out this big task,” Modi said.
The PM also sought to dispel notions that the note ban was an exercise in futility after an RBI report had said 99% of demonetised notes were returned. “Fraud worth Rs 4,000 crore has been found during investigations into 5,000 companies out of 3 lakh that have shut down after demonetisation,” he said.
Accusing the previous Congress-led UPA government of abusing subsidies worth Rs 57, 000 crore, Modi said he had put an end to this misuse and the money was being used for the welfare of the poor. He said this was the reason why Congress was angry with him.
“After being in politics for so long, I can sense which way the wind is blowing. But this time one can see a storm in Himachal. The anger of the public is coming out against corruption, bad law and order, lack of safety for women and daughters,” Modi asserted.
Modi also took a dig at Rajiv Gandhi for his statement that out of one rupee spent from Delhi, only 15 paise reached the villages, saying the former PM was merely painting a picture of what the Congress did when it ran the country. Gandhi, he added, was a doctor who diagnosed the problem of corruption but did nothing about it. Modi wondered where the 85 paise went. “Who was that magician? Or which ‘panja’ (palm) was used to steal that money,” he asked, in an apparent reference to the Congress’s electoral symbol.
On GST, Modi said no businessman had opposed the new tax regime, and the government was doing everything to resolve the problems of traders and shopkeepers after taking all states on board. He said GST greatly benefited the transport sector and truck movement between states had gained pace. “If there is a problem in any corner of the country, we discuss and seriously think about it and try to resolve it. The GST Council last month resolved all the problems of businessmen arising out of the one tax law,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the PM hinted at a crackdown on ‘benami’ properties, and said the Congress was worried as such assets of its leaders would be out in the open. “The time has come to return to the poor what had been robbed of them…I am going to create a situation that they (Congress leaders) would not be able to reclaim their benami assets,” Modi said.