Kangra, Nov 2: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday tore into the Congress government in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh, saying the party leadership had made itself a "laughing club" that vows zero tolerance towards graft but was out on bail on corruption charges.
"We all need to look at the Congress. We should appreciate their courage. Yesterday, they released a manifesto vowing zero tolerance on corruption if the Congress returns to power. They have a gall to claim there will be zero tolerance against corruption," Modi told an election rally in this town ahead of Himachal's November 8 Assembly polls.
He targeted Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who has been charged by the CBI of holding assets disproportionate to his known sources of income: "Singh 'saheb' is claiming there will be zero tolerance against corruption. Can anyone believe him? Can you digest it?"
Modi asked this to the crowd repeatedly.
"The Congress has become a laughing club. Their Chief Minister has a corruption case against him. He is out on a bail. Nothing is left for them and they have lost their hold from every part of the country."
He said this was not the Congress of Mahatma Gandhi or of freedom fighters "but of corruption, dynasty politics and casteism.
"The Congress is an epitome of rotten thought. When we say we want the country rid of the Congress, we mean to rid the country of this rotten thought."
Modi said the Congress needed to introspect why a "forgiving country like India" was out to punish its leaders "by turning away from them one by one".
Donning a Himachali cap, the Prime Minister called the state a land of "martyrs and soldiers" and said the Congress government had patronised "mafias in the Devbhoomi".
"There are five monsters in Himachal Pradesh - mining mafia, forest mafia, drug mafia, tender mafia and transfer mafia.
"These five monsters are looting your resources, future, spreading corruption and nepotism and snatching away the future of the youth."
The BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal and former Chief Minister Shanta Kumar were present at Modi's rally.
Trying to reconnect with voters, the Prime Minister said: "I have worked extensively in Himachal Pradesh, am familiar with its cities and know each and every street here. On November 9 you have the opportunity to bid farewell to the people who have looted the state.
"The lotus will bloom in Himachal and there will be an end to corruption," he said.
He also took a dig at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for meeting the Chinese Ambassador at the height of a military standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam.
He alleged that Gandhi sought Doklam details from the Chinese envoy but didn't believe what the government had to say about the disputed plateau.
"Instead of asking Indian diplomats and the foreign ministry, you go and ask the Chinese envoy. Isn't it insulting when these people talked to Chinese on Doklam instead of asking the elected government?
"Sorry to say, this shows lack of primary understanding. The country knows how the Doklam issue was dealt with, but the Congress even questioned that," he added.