Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday lashed out Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his `termite’ remark against the Congress, even as he ridiculed the BJP leader for running scared from one constituency to another in a desperate bid to garner support for his party’s candidates in the Himachal Pradesh elections .With the writing on the wall clear for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Prime Minister was make frantic rounds of the state, said Captain Amarinder, quipping that he himself had been delayed due to Modi’s frenzied movement in Himachal Pradesh.Reacting to Modi’s `termite’ comment against the Congress, Captain Amarinder said had that been the case, the country would have collapsed by now, instead of progressing the way it had done in the past 70 years. Himachal Pradesh also would not have developed the way it had done under various Congress governments, said the Punjab chief minister, adding that the prime minister’s comments reflected his despair at the anti-BJP swing that had started emerging across the country.
Kick-starting his campaign in support of Congress candidates in Himachal Pradesh with massive rallies in Nachan (Mandi) and Fatehpur (Kangra), Captain Amarinder said it was obvious that the prime minister had realized that the BJP was headed for an electoral rout and had pitched all his personal efforts into salvaging the situation in the bleak hope that he would be able to befool the people.These last-ditch efforts were unlikely, however, to yield results as the people of the state had seen the devastation wreaked by the BJP wherever it was in power, including at the national level, said Captain Amarinder, whose own rallies were delayed due to the prime minister’s frenzied movement.From demonetisation to GST, the Modi-led BJP’s ill-conceived decisions had brought the people to their knees and disillusioned them completely from the party, said the Chief Minister of Punjab. When demonetisation struck, people did not have money to buy even a cup of tea, he pointed out, adding that with the promised GST money yet to roll out, state governments were having a hard time carrying out any development and welfare works.Captain Amarinder, who is one of the star campaigners for the Congress in Himachal Pradesh, also ridiculed the prime minister’s decision to bring in the Bullet Train at a huge cost to the exchequer, offering rides at a price higher than airline tickets. Why would anyone want to pay more for a train journey when they could fly at a cheaper cost, he asked, adding that the Modi government clearly had no qualms about wasting the tax-payers’ hard-earned money.Appealing to the people to vote for the Congress nominees, Lal Singh Kaushal from Nachan and Sujan Singh Pathania from Fatehpur, Captain Amarinder said that with governments in Punjab and other states caught in a financial bind due to the various inconsiderate decisions of the Modi government, the plight of the ordinary people could not even be imagined.
But the BJP remained unconcerned, he said, asking Modi if the central government had spared a single thought on how states and people would survive in the absence of funds.Pointing out that Himachal Pradesh had witnessed huge development on all counts under the Virbhadra Singh government, the Punjab Chief Minister said the people of the hill state wanted continued progress and peace, which only the Congress could give them. The love that Virbhadra has for Himachal Pradesh and its people would ensure that, under his leadership, the state would see another phase of development, said Captain Amarinder.These polls, said the Punjab Chief Minister, were a fight for the future of our children. He exhorted the people gathered for his rallies to go back home and persuade their neighbours and friends to vote for the Congress in the interest of the state.Citing the example of Punjab, which was on the path of economic revival since the Congress government took over, Captain Amarinder said Himachal Pradesh, which had already witnessed huge industrialisation under the Congress regime, would also see large-scale employment generation under Virbhadra’s continued stewardship.
Like him, Virbhadra has also declared this to be his last election as they both wanted to hand over the reins now to the youth, said Captain Amarinder, adding that the outgoing chief minister of Himachal Pradesh had decided to contest these polls only because he wanted to join in battling the current crisis facing the country and bring in more development in the state.The development works initiated by Virbhadra in his last tenure need to be completed, he added.He himself would do his bit for the development of Himachal Pradesh by implementing his 2007 election promise to construct a road linking Sathana in Fatehpur to Talwar – a stretch of 4 kms, the Punjab Chief Minister later told mediapersons in response to a question.Earlier, in Nachan, Captain Amarinder lauded the unanimous selection of Lal Singh Kaushal to contest on the Congress ticket from Nachan, saying the entire party was with him, just as it had been with Sunil Jakhar in the recent Gurdaspur by-election, which the party won with a record margin.In Fatehpur, Captain Amarinder said he was confident of an unprecedented win for the Congress from constituency as Sujjan, whom he had known for the past 40 years, was an excellent candidate. He was sure Himachal Pradesh would deliver for the Congress the kind of victory Punjab had secured for the party in the assembly and Gurdaspur had done recently in LS bypoll, he added.
Listing down the `shaandar’ achievements of the `jaandar’ Congress leadership in Himachal Pradesh, Captain Amarinder told the rallies that the state, under the stewardship of Virbhadra Singh, saw holistic development, with every citizen getting the benefit of the government’s welfare programmes. Virbhadra’s tenure remains etched as a golden chapter in the state’s progressive journey, said the Punjab Chief Minister, recounting the wok done by his Himachal counterpart in fulfilling virtually all the party promises made to the people.Pointing out that Himachal Pradesh today stands out as the best among the states in the field of education, Captain Amarinder said it was clear that the programmes of the Virbhadra government had reached out to the people at the grassroot level. The state had been rated as topper in governance among the small states of the country, and, according to a Media Studies Centre survey, had been rated an honest state, he further noted.Citing some of the achievements of the Virbhadra government, Captain Amarinder said the poor, needy and helpless people in the state had received assistance to the tune of Rs 56 crore during his tenure, with 30000 people benefitting as a result. Enhancement in income limit to widen the scope of eligibility criteria for welfare schemes, increase in social security pension, implementation of unemployment allowance scheme, besides significant improvement in education and healthcare, as well as housing, irrigation, agriculture and industry were some of the other major accomplishments of the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh over the past five years, he added.Captain Amarinder will hold another set of rallies in support of Congress candidates in Mandi and Nalagarh constituencies of Himachal Pradesh on Monday, followed by two more – Nurpur and Haroli, on Tuesday.