Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi took on the Congress on graft and used the development card to impress upon the 1-lakh people who attended his much-anticipated 'Parivartan rally' at Sujanpur Tihra in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday.
Modi, addressing his first rally in the state since being named the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, said if the party came to power, its agenda would be "national development alliance".
He spoke of balanced development, particularly in Himalayan states, and change: "Asking chief ministers (CMs) to speak for 10 minutes does not help. The Prime Minister (PM) must visit states and sit and discuss issues with CMs. What did not happen in these states in 60 years will happen in 60 months, I assure you. You will see change."
On corruption and Congress, Modi promised to bring back black money kept in foreign banks, and use it to award income tax-paying government employees and the salaried for their honesty.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, meanwhile, attacked the Congress and its handling of the 1971 war. He also asked the gathering to vote for the BJP, irrespective of the candidate contesting the seat.
'BJP sows seeds of love, not hatred'
Taking on Congress president Sonia Gandhi's "zehar ki kheti" remark, Narendra Modi said that unlike the UPA's handling of the Telangana issue, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had created three states during its rule and the BJP sowed "the seeds of love", not hatred. Modi accused the Congress of playing divisive politics in Andhra Pradesh. "It decided on Telangana without consulting people," he said. He also attacked Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh. "The Prime Minister says money does not grow on trees, but his own CM became 14 times richer by earning money from trees," he said and claimed that Virbhadra's affidavit for the 2012 assembly elections showed that his income grew by 14 times in three years.
Rajnath woos defence personnel
With former and serving defence personnel forming a sizeable chunk of the gathering, BJP president Rajnath Singh made a special mention of soldiers and promised to set up a modern weapons factory. "When we can launch satellites in outer space, why can't we develop weapons," he said. Meanwhile, Modi also took on the Congress on the much-delayed Manali-Leh highway and described Himachal Pradesh as the land of braves.