Former panchayati raj minister and senior leader of the BJP Jairam Thakur filed papers for the Mandi parliamentary byelection at the returning officer's office at Mandi on Saturday.
Thakur was a cabinet minister in the previous BJP state government. He was elected to the HP state assembly for the first time from Seraj segment of Mandi in 1998 and therein he consecutively won 2003, 2007 and 2012 elections. He also served as BJP state chief and claimed victory for the BJP in the state assembly elections by absolute majority in 2007.
Former chief ministers Shanta Kumar, PK Dhumal and state BJP political affairs in charge Balbir Punj were also present at the occasion.
Later, the BJP organised a rally at Seri Manch in Mandi, which was addressed by a few top leaders, including Kumar and Dhumal.
Most of the leaders, who addressed the rally, attended by a few thousand people, tried to spread the message that byelection was just a rehearsal for the 2014 Lok Sabha general elections and the BJP candidate's victory in the bypoll would prove the beginning of the journey to the Lok Sabha elections and form BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.
Kumar accused the Congress-led UPA government of rampant corruption and slump in India's economic growth to 5%, which was the lowest in the past one decade.
Shanta said, “Everything is on for sale in India now. May it be politician, a player or a businessman - all are playing unethical sale-purchase game to exploit the nation's wealth. The UPA government has proved to be the most corrupt government in the Indian history and its leaders most opportunist and immoral.”
Shanta alleged that the 90 crore population of India was surviving on average Rs 20 a day, whereas the corrupt Congress party government had been grooming millionaires, who were earning through illegal means by exploiting the country's land, resources and public money and depositing illicit money in foreign banks.
Indicating Chinese military incursion in Indian territory as most serious threat, Shanta said China knew that corruption had shattered Indian economy and security and people were suffering from poverty, inflation, malnutrition, hunger and unemployment and it was the best time to bargain with a country that had a weak leadership and economy and attack the country to overpower it.
“I warn the government to correct things well in time otherwise China can repeat 1962 history anytime. I request the Prime Minister to show strength and courage to wipe out corruption and corrupt leaders to save the nation. Do not behave like East India Company who govern and looted our wealth for more than three centuries,” he added.
Dhumal said the Congress would use money to gain power, but the BJP would find victory through hard work by winning confidence of the common people.
Dhumal also remembered BJP stalwart and former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and warned the Congress government that if they deleted the name of Vajpayee from welfare schemes, the BJP would also remove the names of Congress leaders from institutions and welfare schemes.
He also corrected Congress party candidate Pratibha Singh's claim over Rohtang tunnel and added that Vajpayee had laid the foundation stone of the tunnel in 2002, whereas Pratibha became MP in 2004.
BJP state president Satpal Singh Satti said the present Congress government was the first government that had lost popularity and faith in just five months of it regime.
He said transport minister GS Bali's resignation letter was an example of dictatorial functioning of the Virbhadra Singh leadership. He praised Thakur as honest and hard working leader.
Thakur said the byelection was the most important and historical one for the BJP and urged party workers to work harder to ensure the party's win. If the BJP resumed power at the Centre than retaining power in the state prior to the scheduled state assembly elections in 2017 would be the BJP's next target.
BJP national vice-president Balbir Punj and national secretary and MP JP Nadda failed to impress the audience and party workers.