Describing the Himachal election as a “one-sided” contest, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today accused the Congress of running away from the battlefield and said it had nothing left to do but grieve in the coming days. In a series of meetings in Himachal Pradesh, Modi also said he was unfazed by the Congress’s protest call on the anniversary of demonetisation and stressed that by burning his effigies, the party could not stop him from carrying forward the fight against corruption and black money. “The Congress party has left the ground and run away. This election has become one-sided, never seen earlier,” he said about the November 9 poll. “I can understand the pain of my Congress brothers. Their problem is that a tea-seller has become the prime minister, a poor mother’s son has reached this level. They felt they had reserved this seat forever, but this public knows all,” he said. Modi, who addressed poll meetings — called Parivartan Rally — in Una, Palampur and Kullu to give a fillip to the BJP’s poll campaign, accused former prime minister Indira Gandhi of not going for a note ban when she needed to, and said he would not have had to carry out this elaborate an exercise had she taken the step for demonetisation years ago. “For the Congress, it is never ‘dal se bada desh’ (the country is bigger than the party). For them only their party’s interest comes first,” he alleged. He said after the people of Uttar Pradesh brought the BJP to power, the Congress had started to fear that it would find it difficult to deal with him even in 2024. “And that is why they have no alternative before them except to burn my effigies,” he said. Modi said over 3 lakh companies had shut down after the note ban and a probe into 5,000 such firms had found a fraud of Rs 4,000 crore. Investigation against the others was on.
Referring to the Congress’s “Black Day” call, he said at a well-attended poll rally in Kullu, “A few people who faced the heat of demonetisation are still complaining and are planning to observe November 8 as a ‘black day’. The Congress cannot scare me by burning my effigies.” “I learn that the Congress is planning to observe ‘mourning’ in the coming week. It has nothing to do except grieve in the coming days… My fight against corruption will not stop,” he said at another rally in Palampur. Modi said the note ban had “disturbed the sleep” of Congressmen, alleging that they had “big bags and garages” full of old notes. Campaigning for the third day in a row in the state, he urged the people to ensure that the BJP formed a government with a three-fourth majority. The election, he added, was not being fought by the BJP, but the people of the state who were out to teach a lesson to the Congress “Sultanate” for corruption and poor law and order. “People want not just a change, but punishment for those who looted Himachal Pradesh. A storm is raging here against the corrupt Congress,” he said.
Focusing on corruption, Modi accused the former UPA government at the Centre of abusing subsidies worth Rs 57,000 crore. He claimed he had stopped this misuse, and the money was now being used for the welfare of the poor. “The Congress and corruption are inseparable; they are like a tree and its roots. All their leaders are out on bail after facing serious charges of corruption and they are speaking about putting a check on corruption,” he said. He also took a dig at former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for his statement that out of one rupee spent from Delhi, only 15 paisa reached the villages, saying Gandhi was merely giving an account of what the Congress did when it ran the country. “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, the palm, and wondered where the money had gone.
Modi said the Congress did not implement the benami assets law as it would reveal all their “wrong-doings”. “Who is responsible for corruption? Who brought communal, caste and social disharmony in India? It is the Congress. Don’t you think the party needs to be taught a lesson?” On GST, Modi said no businessman or business body 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.