Modi, Rahul trade barbs on drug abuse in Pun­jab Ud­dhav vs Fad­navis: Bat­tle for BMC all set to get bit­ter

POLL PLAN Cong vice-pres­i­dent says Cap­tain Amarinder is party’s CM can­di­date

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Aseem Bassi and Ravin­der Va­sudeva let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com Ke­taki Ghoge and Manasi Phadke ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Congress vice pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi traded barbs on Fri­day over drug abuse in Pun­jab, set­ting the tone for a po­ten­tially fiery cam­paign over the di­vi­sive is­sue ahead of next month’s assem­bly polls in the state. Gandhi also named state Congress pres­i­dent Cap­tain Amarinder Singh as the chief min­is­te­rial can­di­date, end­ing months of spec­u­la­tion on who will lead the party’s bat­tle against the rul­ing SAD-BJP and the AAP.

All 117 con­stituen­cies in Pun­jab will vote on Fe­bru­ary 4 and the re­sults will be an­nounced on March 11. Gandhi has re­peat­edly tar­geted the rul­ing Badal fam­ily for fail­ing to ad­dress the prob­lem of drug abuse in the state where an es­ti­mated 70% of the youth are said to be ad­dicted to what is lo­cally known as ‘chitta’. Chief min­is­ter Parkash Singh Badal, how­ever, claims that the prob­lem was be­ing blown out of pro­por­tion.

With­out nam­ing any­body, Gandhi said if voted to power, the party will send to jail all those who have looted the state and failed to ad­dress the drugs prob­lem. “The Congress will fight drugs and we will­winit,”Gand­hi­sai­datthe­SAD­BJP strong­hold Ma­jitha, adding the party will also bring in such a strin­gent law that ped­dlers would shiver even think­ing about drugs.

Shortly af­ter Gandhi’s rally, Modi ad­dressed a pub­lic meet­ing in Ja­land­har and ac­cused the Congress of bad mouthing Pun­jab’s youth over the drug is­sue.

Af­ter rul­ing the BMC to­gether for more than two decades, the BJP and the Shiv Sena are headed for a bit­ter fight in their bid to get the big­ger piece of the civic body that gov­erns In­dia’s fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal. And a day af­ter the Sena pulled the rug Ud­dhav Thack­eray at a Shiv Sena rally at Gore­gaon on Thurs­day. from un­der the saf­fron al­liance for the Mumbai civic polls, all eyes are now on CM Deven­dra Fad­navis, who will ad­dress at the BJP’s show of strength rally at Gore­gaon on Satur­day and is ex­pected to set the tone for the BJP cam­paign. The fight could im­pact the func­tion­ing of the BJP-led gov­ern­ment in the state, with the Sena in­di­cat­ing it will be­come more ag­gres­sive.

Sena min­is­ter Sub­hash De­sai said the new crop of BJP lead­ers is not the same as what it used to be. “The Sena has some emo­tions, sen­ti­ments to­wards the al­liance, whereas this next gen­er­a­tion of BJP is only about trans­ac­tions, gains and con­ve­nience,” he said.

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