Calling the Congress to fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime unitedly, union minister for commerce Anand Sharma on Saturday made a vociferous attack on chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, saying that the latter was criticising the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government instead of being gracious for the central assistance to the state.
Sharma said the central government had been benevolent towards the Dhumal-led BJP government. "I have full faith that the poor governance and bad state of affairs will catapult the Congress to power," Anand Sharma told mediapersons, alleging that it was only a coterie of few people around Dhumal who called the shots in the government.
He said the assistance provided by the central government to the state exceeded Rs 1,700 crore. He said the central government had provided grants to the state under the MNREGA for irrigation and public health, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
He said the state government's annual plan was estimated at Rs 1,900 crore but the UPA government enhanced it to Rs 3,700 crore.
"The Dhumal government did not acknowledge what the Centre had done for it, rather it led a vilification campaign against the central government," he said.
Sharma accused the state government of diverting the central funds. He said the state government
changed the names of the central government schemes. "I am not making statements just for the sake of elections, but they are based on facts," he said.
The commerce minister cleared the air on Saturday over the status of the special industrial package given to Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in 2003, saying it had not been withdrawn. "The industrial package to Himachal and Uttarakhand has not been withdrawn but for the sunset clause, which ended the excise exemption. Other incentives like income tax holiday, capital subsidy and transport subsidy continue," Sharma said.
To support his claim of Central assistance to the state, Anand Sharma also released the details of Centre-sponsored schemes and projects, including the Central University in Kangra, NIFT in Kangra, and IIT in Mandi.
Sharma gave a guarded reply to the questions asked on the latest round of the allegations of corruption against Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president Virbhadra Singh.
"We are opposed to any manifestation of corruption in any form. The law will take its own course," said Sharma, adding that he had appealed to the rebels in the party to withdraw their nominations in favour of the official nominee. Sharma evaded direct reply on why there were so many rebels candidates in the Congress.
The union commerce minister said he was happy serving as a minister in the union government. "The decision on the next chief minister will be taken by the Congress Legislature Party leader," he said.