With only a few months left for the Himachal Assembly election, the Jai Ram Thakur government in the state has announced several sops in what is being seen as a move to counter pre-poll freebie announcements by the opposition parties, including the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The sops, announced on the occasion of the 75th Himachal Day at the state-level function held in Chamba, include 50 per cent discount on travelling in HRTC buses for women and all power consumers up to 125 units would get zero bill from July 1.
The power relief could benefit 11.5 lakh consumers.
He also announced that no water bill would be charged from all the families living in rural areas, thus extending a benefit of Rs 30 crore to them.
Hours after the announcement, AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused Thakur of trying to ape him by announcing major sops.
Kejriwal, while accusing the BJP regime of trying to copy his Delhi model of governance, demanded that all announcements made by CM Thakur be extended to all BJP-ruled states, else people will consider them to be mere election gimmicks.
“If you will not extend these announcements to all other BJP-ruled states, then people will treat these sops as election gimmick, announced fearing the AAP,” he said, adding that people will treat these announcements as mere election stunt, which will be taken back after the election.
Both the AAP and the BJP have been targeting each other ever since the former tried to make inroads into Himachal politics by holding a roadshow of Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann at Mandi, the home turf of CM Thakur, on April 6.
The AAP has now announced to hold a show of strength in Kangra, the biggest and politically most significant district, on April 23.
The BJP effected some major defections from AAP within a week of the Mandi rally. Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur made the Himachal AAP president and state organisational secretary join BJP in Delhi.
Within the next two days, AAP state Mahila president, along with other office-bearers, joined the BJP in Delhi. A stunned AAP, meanwhile, announced the dissolution of its organisational bodies to prevent further defections, which had already caused much embarrassment. .
With inputs from News18