<br>PM Modi’s presence will also kick-off the BJP’s election campaign in Himachal Pradesh.
In a conversation with India Narrative, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur sounded upbeat about the BJP’s electoral prospects in the state.
"The party (BJP) has drawn a calendar of activities for next six months. Programmes for massive mobilisation of the cadres up to the booth level, series of rallies are planned with the launch of several new projects at the government level" he says.
Not only will the Prime Minister address a public rally in Shimla, for which the party has set a target to bring over 30,000 people, Modi will connect virtually with 17 lakh people in 550 districts of the country simultaneously.
"Prime Minister will interact with 16 to 17 beneficiaries in Himachal Pradesh at different locations apart from those in the other states. The IT teams are setting-up a high-speed connectivity corridor from the Ridge to enable the Prime Minister to seek beneficiaries feedback," informs Suresh Kashyap, BJP state president.
All cabinet ministers and MPs have been told to remain present in the districts. They will be connected with the Prime Minister through a video conference facility along with beneficiaries. No cabinet minister will be in Shimla at the function – a new concept BJP wants to use to get maximum political mileage ahead of the elections.
"This is going to be an important event, not just for the state but also the country when the Prime Minister talks about welfare initiatives and direct benefits being made available to poor and marginalised sections," Kashyap informs.
But this is not all that Prime Minister Modi is really aiming for in Himachal Pradesh.
He has chosen Dharamshala – the second important urban town in Himachal Pradesh for his two-day stay in the state. Dharamshala is the district headquarter of the state’s biggest and politically sensitive district which plays a significant role in the formation of the government.
The district has 15 assembly seats of which 11 were won by the BJP in the 2017 elections against 10 won by the Congress in 2012 when it had formed the government.
"The Prime Minister will arrive at Dharamshala on June 16 and will stay for two nights. During this, he also proposes to visit Chamba to inaugurate 180 MW Bajoli Holi and lay the foundation stone of another project," says Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The Prime Minister is also slated to address a conference of the state Chief Secretaries convened at Dharamshala.
The Prime Minister planning to address three functions within a fortnight in Himachal clearly signals his seriousness to focus on the state elections, which are going to have high stakes for the party after having won four states viz UP, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.
Thakur admits that beside the performance of the BJP government during the past four and a half years ,which was marked by several new initiatives, the party will bank on Modi’s charisma in the polls.
Even in 2017 – when the BJP had won with the highest number of assembly seats, 44 out of 68, Modi had held the first rally ahead of the elections at Shimla’s Ridge. This paved the way for the BJP winning the Shimla Municipal Corporation elections, the first time in its history.
The momentum helped the BJP to come back to power in the November 2017 polls.
Exactly on those lines, Modi has started targeting Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh quite early.
There are chances of Modi making another visit in July 2022 to inaugurate AIIMS, Bilaspur – a project started by him during J P Nadda’s tenure as union health minister. Bilaspur is also Nadda’s home district and falls in the parliamentary constituency of Anurag Thakur.
"We will seek votes purely on development work of the state government and the Centre. We are confident of breaking the myth that the incumbent government never returns to power for the second time," Thakur asserts.
Asked about the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) making a dent in the state, the Chief Minister said "they (AAP) neither has ideology nor credible leadership. As I have said earlier, the hill is going to be high for the AAP. Their model of governance has already come under a cloud in Punjab and watch them for another four to five months, nobody will trust them. It’s like much ado about nothing," he told reporters here.
Asked why the state government is shy of holding elections to the Shimla Municipal Corporation, Thakur said the "matter is pending in the High Court. The government is waiting for the Court orders and will take a call accordingly."
Has not the recent police constables’ recruitment paper leak scam dented the government’s image in the election year? When asked, the Chief Minister said: "My conscience is very clear. We will not hide anything to spare the guilty. The day the matter came to my notice, I ordered the state police to register FIR immediately. Next day, I cancelled the examination paper and set-up an SIT. By now 91 persons have been arrested, at least 10-11 from different states like UP, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Delhi and Punjab. Looking at the gravity of this matter, I have referred the probe to the CBI. We will take exemplary action against the guilty, maybe they are high police officials," he says.
(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)