National congress Vice-President, Rahul Gandhi declared that Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh will lead the party in the coming assembly elections and urged people of the state to make Virbhadra Singh Chief Minister of the state for the seventh time.He was addressing a massive public meeting at Paddal Ground in Mandi today.Highlighting achievements of the state in development, Rahul Gandhi made a glaring comparison between Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh and showered praises on the Chief Minister for providing employment to around 70,000 youth in government sector besides strengthening health and educational institutions in the state.Congress vice-president mentioned time and again to support congress to be led by Virbhadra Singh, who he said, is a ‘Fakir’ in true sense.‘Vijay Se Vikas’ rally kickstarted the poll campaign in the state and also a clarion call was given by Rahul Gandhi that all have to stand united together to accomplish the goal of formation of Congress government in the state with Virbhadra Singh as the Chief Minister.
He came down heavy on the policies of the Union government and blamed Narendra Modi for decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He said that the fall in GDP by 2 percent speaks in volumes about mismanagement of the economic reforms. Not only this, he also attacked NDA Government for imposing Goods and Service Tax (GST) on people of the country creating trouble for all sections of the society. He said that services became more expensive and the decision was taken into haste ignoring small and marginal traders.Instead of one tax throughout the country, the NDA has imposed five different type of taxes completely derailing the economy with imposition of 28 percent tax from the very onset. This was the biggest blow on the Indian economy, he said.He also criticised the Union government on demonetisation of currency, adding that it was imposed on the people which caught them unaware.Striking the chord with the crowd, Rahul Gandhi wished that either we would have been without the roof or there should have been cover for people who were sitting in the scorching heat just to listen him.
Coming to comparative figures of development of the Prime Minister’s home state and the congress ruled Himachal Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi said that Himachal state had given unemployment allowance of Rs.1000 to the unemployed whereas it was not being given in Gujarat. Congress led Himachal government opened or upgraded as many as 15000 schools whereas the Gujarat government closed 13,000 schools during last five years. HP government opened four medical colleges, 57 degree colleges as opposite to Gujarat where just 25 degree colleges have been opened and no medical college during last five years. He criticised the Gujarat model of development which he termed as befooling the people of Gujarat in name of development. He said that the financial assistance for housing for different categories was Rs 1.30 lakh to poor in Himachal whereas in Gujarat it was merely Rs 70,000. Social security pension was Rs.700 per month in Himachal and mere Rs.450 in Gujrat.
He said that the NDA played with the sentiments of youth in name of employment as it promised to provide two crore jobs per year to them, whereas the Modi government totally failed providing employment as promised. He also said that the Modi government failed to protect the interest of farmers as hundreds of farmers were committing suicide in the country. Loan waiver policies of the Union government also made mockery of farmers in the name of waiving off loans.Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh while addressing on the occasion thanked people for co-operation and love they showered on him, further adding that he has family ties with people of the state and shared strong bonding with them. “People were family members to me and I don't have servant-master relation with them, he said adding that it was due to the guidance of the people and their suggestions that Himachal has traversed a long distance from scratch to become as the most developed State in the country”. He credited the development of this hill state to Gandhi family, right from Jawahar Lal Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi.
He said that 95 percent of the educational institutions were opened during the successive congress regimes in the state. During last five years we have opened or upgraded around 230 health institutions in the state. The Chief Minister said that the government provided land for AIIMS as demanded by the Union Health Ministry, but the BJP state leaders claimed that Union Government sanctioned AIIMS and gave funds for it.
“I want to make it clear that it was the responsibility of the central government's to provide state share for undertaking development and the funds provided for AIIMS was not from anyone's personal pocket, it was the funds from ‘Bharat Sarkar’ from the states share which the state government deserve and have full right to ask for, said the Chief Minister adding that the Central Government can boast of funds provided to Union territories which were under the direct control of the Union government but it can't claim the share of states as its own. No matter which ever government was at the helm of affairs in the centre, it becomes the moral duty of the Union government to release the funds earmarked for the states”.
Though I respect Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but he can't impose such policies on people of the country which were autocratic in nature, said the Chief Minister. He also termed the steps of demonetisation and GST as detrimental to Indian economy.Listing development in the state, he said that there were hardly 288 kilometres of road when the state was formed and the total road length stands 37,000 kilometres today, he said. The state achieved 100 percent electrification, every village has drinking water facilities, he said adding that there were 137 degree colleges in the state and 57 were opened in this tenure of my government.Industries Minister, Mukesh Agnihotri said that Union Government had failed in keeping all poll promises that were made three years ago to the people of the country.Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur welcomed Rahul Gandhi on the occasion as Panchayati Raj Minister Anil Sharma proposed vote of thanks.Those who spoke on the occasion were HP Congress party in charge Sushil Kumar Shinde, MP Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma, Secretary AICC Ranjeeta Ranjan, HPCC President Sukhwinder Sukhu and Viplove Thakur.