Prime Minister Narendra Modi will kick off the BJP`s campaign on Saturday with an aim to woo the youths for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly by addressing nearly one lakh youth in Mandi, also known as `Chhoti Kashi`.
He will be addressing the Yuva Vijay Sankalp rally, the first of the three rallies planned ahead of the poll announcement, in Mandi, the district with 10 Assembly segments, the state`s second highest, with an expected gathering of over one lakh people below the age of 40.
After Mandi, Modi is likely to address public meetings in Bilaspur and Chamba town at later dates. BJP leaders Amit Shah and J.P. Nadda will also visit the state separately.
BJP state unit chief Suresh Kashyap said the visit of the Prime Minister to Mandi is a matter of pride for the people.
“Narendra Modi`s affection towards the people of Himachal is amazing and the people of Himachal also love him very much. Modi-ji has door-to-door contact and a deep relation with Himachal,” Kashyap told IANS.
He said the youth rally organised by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha would be a grand success and a large number of workers are coming to listen to Modi.
“More than 1 lakh youths are going to participate in the rally that will infuse new energy in the BJP. Twenty youths from every booth of Himachal Pradesh will participate in this rally.
Elated over Modi`s visit, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who is personally monitoring arrangements relating to the Yuva Vijay Sankalp rally, said the Prime Minister`s visit shows his benevolence towards the state and its people.
He said the Prime Minister has sanctioned a Bulk Drug Pharma Park for the state even before his visit to the state.
“This is a befitting reply to those who alleged that the Prime Minister has given nothing to the state,” he told IANS.
Thakur, under whose leadership the party will go to the polls, said a special assistance of Rs 800 crore was provided by the Prime Minister to the state, besides sanctioning developmental projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore for the state.
He said Opposition leaders were perturbed by the decision of the state government to organize 75 events to thank the people of the state for their contributions over these years to make Himachal Pradesh as one of the frontrunner states in the country in development.
He said the slogan of the BJP government regarding changing the tradition is also not going well with the Congress leaders.
“This tradition (of retaining the helm for another consecutive term) has changed throughout the country and now it is the turn of Himachal Pradesh to do so,” an optimistic Thakur told IANS.
Normally in every public meeting, Thakur, who is currently on an inauguration spree by travelling to every nook and corner of the state, is missing no opportunity to remind the public about Modi`s special bond and love for the people of the state where he spent a few years as the in-charge of the state`s affairs in the late 90s.
Getting nostalgic by speaking often in the local dialect, even Prime Minister Modi in his public addresses became vocal about his emotional bond and connection with the state that he says has had a very positive impact in shaping and giving direction to his life.
Modi last visited the state on May 31 to address beneficiaries of the Central government`s schemes to mark the eighth anniversary of his government from the historic Ridge — once the promenade of the British colonial rulers when Shimla was their summer capital.
Earlier, he addressed a rally in Mandi on December 27, 2021, to mark the fourth anniversary of the state government.
Senior Cabinet Minister Suresh Bhardwaj told IANS that in the last five years there is a double-engine government in the state and at the Centre and the speed of development and the implementation of schemes has gained momentum.
“Himachal proposes projects and the Centre approves the funds. Recently, the Centre approved a bulk drug park for Himachal, a major achievement for a small state. There are several projects and schemes that Himachal has benefitted from. If I talk about urban development, Shimla and Dharamsala have benefitted from the Smart City Mission while AMRUT-I and AMRUT-II are there for other cities.”
Despite the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) striving hard to make inroads ahead of the polls, the political scenario in Himachal Pradesh seems so far largely bipolar — a tug-of-war between the two conventional archrivals — the Congress and the saffron party.
Himachal Pradesh was traditionally dominated by the Congress and saw its first non-Congress Chief Minister, Shanta Kumar, in 1977, when the Janata Party came to power.
The BJP had won a majority in the 2017 Assembly polls with 44 seats in the 68-member Assembly.