With the Congress regrouping and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) trying to gain a toehold in the political landscape of Himachal Pradesh just months before the year-end assembly elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be banking on “Modi magic” to thwart a bid to oust it from power.
The party is planning a huge programme to mark eight years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre. The event is being planned on the historic Ridge at Shimla and among those expected to attend include Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his senior party colleagues.
Senior BJP leaders said that apart from chief minister Jai Ram Thakur having met the Prime Minister in this regard, the PM himself was keen because he too began his political journey from Himachal Pradesh as he was in charge of BJP affairs of the hill state for a long time and there would have been no better way to mark the eight years of the party’s government at the Centre.
Though the exact date of the programme is yet to be finalised, BJP leaders said it would be held in the last week of May. Party insiders said that the occasion will focus on the achievements of the BJP-led NDA government in the last eight years and the beneficiaries of the central schemes in the hill state will also be present to speak about the advantages and the benefits accruing from the welfare schemes.
The BJP leaders have also proposed that the beneficiaries of central schemes from other states should also join virtually to create more impact. This, however, is to be cleared by the central ministries with some leaders arguing that it could take away the attention from Himachal Pradesh.
With elections in mind, state BJP leaders are of the opinion that the PM might choose this occasion to make more announcements like the setting up of the bulk drug pharma park at Haroli in Una. Senior leaders pointed out that the Prime Minister could lay the foundation stone of this much-touted project which is likely to generate employment for 10,000 people and investment worth Rs 500 crore.
Party leaders admitted that given the “Modi charisma” in the state, the state BJP was hoping to capitalise on that and try to unsettle the opposition parties, mainly the Congress. The party is also wary of the attempts by AAP to register its presence in the state following its impressive victory in neighbouring Punjab and hopes any anti-incumbency would be negated by the “Modi magic”.