The Opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on Wednesday launched a statewide “Oust Virbhadra” campaign at a rally at Zoravar ground near Tapovan Complex of the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha with Union health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda and senior leader Prem Kumar Dhumal leading the charge against chief minister Virbhadra Singh, who is facing corruption charges.
With workers from across the state joining the rally, the saffron party leaders, in unison, sharpened their demand seeking resignation of the chief minister and demanded the Congress high command to act against him.
Lashing out at Singh, Dhumal said instead of resigning, Singh was alleging that the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids on his premises were a conspiracy against him.
“The case pertains to the time when Singh was a Union minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government,” Dhumal said, adding that if it was a conspiracy then why cases were registered against him when his own party was in power?
The former chief minister asked the gathering, whether they had ever earned Rs 6 crore from apple orchards.
“His (Virbhadra’s) corruption came to the fore when he filed revised income tax returns and showed a steep hike in the income from few lakhs to crores,” Dhumal said.
“How is it possible that his income crossed the Rs 6-crore mark in just three years?” he asked.
The former chief minister further said the countdown for the present Congress regime’s ouster had begun and there would be mid-term polls in the next year in the state. “We set a target of winning more than 60 seats in the elections,” said Dhumal.
Union health minister JP Nadda, who was the main speaker at the rally said the corruption charges against Singh had brought a bad name to Himachal Pradesh. “Himachal is known for its peaceful environment and honest people. However, now people in Delhi ask us how does the chief minister of your state produce ‘gold apples’,” Nadda quipped.
The Union minister said Singh had lost his conscience otherwise he would have resigned by now.
He added that it was during the NDA government under Atal Behari Vajpayee that Himachal Pradesh got the industrial package and now the Narendra Modi-led Union government has restored the special category status to the state, which was snatched by the UPA government.
“This is because the people have chosen the right person and the right government to rule the country,” Nadda claimed. Speaking on the occasion, BJP national secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Himachal, Shrikant Sharma, said the time had come to throw out the corrupt Congress government in Himachal.
“Now it is for the chief minister whether he will resign on moral grounds or will do so after getting arrested,” Sharma said, while telling the workers that the upcoming panchayat polls were a battleground and an opportunity to show the Congress the mirror.
Later, the BJP workers led by Dhumal and state BJP president Satpal Satti marched towards the Vidhan Sabha, but were stopped just outside the rally venue by the police. The charged-up workers also scuffled with the police but returned after an appeal by senior leaders.