The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday blew the bugle for the ensuing Himachal Pradesh assembly elections in the state with both the warring leaders - chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his rival former chief minister Shanta Kumar - projected a united face at the rally presided over by the party’s national chief Nitin Gadkari.
This is for the first time after almost two years that Shanta Kumar shared dais with Dhumal in a party programme, particularly, in the politically significant Kangra district.
The two leaders, who were indulged in a long cold war for two years, on Sunday claimed unity in the party. While Shanta showered praises on Dhumal for overall development in the state, Dhumal hailed Shanta for giving the state a new direction during his regime.
The rally that was named as "Yuva Sankalp Rally" is also seen as a reply to the Parivartan Rally that was held by the opposition Congress in chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s home turf, Hamirpur.
Overwhelmed by the gathering in the rally, all the state party leaders and Gadkari said the response from the public was a sign that people in Himachal want the BJP government to repeat again while on the national level they want a change.
Meanwhile, addressing the rally, Gadkari termed the upcoming assembly elections in Himachal the semi-final to the 2014 general elections and called upon the party workers to work hard to ensure the repeat of government in the state.
"Our mission is 2014 general elections, but before that we have to win the semi-final that is assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat," said Gadkri.
Gadkari said in the past eight years, inflation has broken all the records, petrol prices have been hiked 18 times, bank interest rates have gone up 17 times, food grains worth crores is rotting, there are big scams like CWG and 2G Spectrum, the FDI has stopped coming in, unemployment is on the rise and farmers are committing suicide.
Comparing the NDA regime with the current UPA government, Gadkari said the GDP that was around 9% during the Atal Bihari Bajpayee government has come down to 5.5% in the UPA regime.
He said not only money was needed for the development, but it was the leadership, credibility and farsightedness of the leadership that is necessary for the purpose and the UPA has failed to provide all these elements in its regime.
"The UPA government is not serious in bringing back the black money stashed in foreign banks as its own people have accounts in foreign banks," alleged Gadkari.
Hailing the state BJP government for its welfare schemes and developmental projects, Gadkari said the party will repeat its government in the state and party workers will have to work hard to accomplish the mission repeat.
Expressing his view on the dissidence in the state party leadership in Himachal, Gadkari said the BJP was a democratic party and
indiscipline in the party would not be tolerated.
Parrying the question on who will be the next chief minister in the Himachal, whether Dhumal or Shanta, Gadkari said the election will be fought under united leadership of both the leaders and the party will repeat the government in the state.
Shanta confident of repeat of govt
Interacting with mediapersons at HPCA stadium where he addressed the BJYM workshop, former chief minister Shanta Kumar said the Dhumal-led state government has done a good job in the state and party will repeat the government in upcoming elections.