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In poll-bound Himachal Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says BJP on way to victory, says Congress symbolizes corruption, caste-ism and dynasty

With less than a week to go before the Himachal Pradesh elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modion Thursday, raised the BJP’s pitch against the Congress in the hill state, urging the electorate to vote out the grand-old party which he said symbolized corruption, caste-ism and dynasty. This was Modi’s first election tour of poll-bound Himachal Pradesh where the BJP and Congress will witness a direct fight on November 9.

Modi made pointed attacks against Rahul Gandhi and Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, raising issues ranging from the Congress vice president’s purported meeting with a Chinese diplomat to discuss the Doklam standoff and the corruption cases against the state’s incumbent chief minister.

While the Congress has, in its manifesto for the state elections, claimed that it would adopt a zero-tolerance on corruption, Modi tried to turn this claim on its head by asserting that chief minister Virbhadra Singh is himself out on bail in a corruption case and that the Congress had become a “laughing club” by talking about checking graft.

Addressing a public rally in Kangra district’s Rehan town, Modi said that there was an urgent need to “save Himachal from the Congress” and claimed that he had told his party’s election managers that he needn’t campaign in the state because he knew that “the people of Himachal have already decided to vote the BJP to power and throw out the Congress”. Modi made similar claims at public meetings he held in other parts of the state.

Given that the elections in Himachal and Gujarat (which will go to polls in two phases – on December 9 and 14) come at a time when Rahul Gandhi is leading his party’s charge against the BJP and is tipped to be elevated as the Congress president, taking over from his mother Sonia Gandhi, Modi made it a point to launch a broadside against the Nehru-Gandhi scion.

The Congress, Modi said, is a party that is neck-deep in “corruption, dynastic politics and caste-ism” and claimed: “The Congress party of today has nothing in common with the one that Mahatma Gandhi was a part of… Today, Congress is only about one family and its interests.”

He then raked up the controversy that had erupted when during the Doklam standoff between India and China Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had held a meeting with Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui, ostensibly to discuss the issue.

“The entire nation is witness to how the Doklam issue was dealt with (by the Centre), but the Congress even questioned that… Someone born in a family which has ruled for decades doesn’t believe his own Army and agencies? Instead, he meets China’s envoy and asks about Doklam,” Modi said in a clear reference to Rahul Gandhi.

The Prime Minister alleged that under Congress rule, “Five monsters – Mining Mafia, Forest Mafia, Drug Mafia, Tender Mafia and Transfer Mafia – have flourished in Himachal” and exhorted the people to “get rid of them” by voting out the Congress party.

Elections for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh assembly will be held on November 9 and the results will be declared on December 18 along with those for the Gujarat polls. The BJP declared party veteran Prem Kumar Dhumal as its chief ministerial candidate for Himachal earlier this week. Dhumal, a former chief minister of the state, is an arch rival of incumbent chief minister Virbhadra Singh and enjoys huge popularity in lower Himachal and parts of the state’s Kangra region, which is seen as the key to winning the state.

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