Just hours before the election commission announced the schedule for the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on Wednesday accused the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre of discriminating against the state government during the past four years.
"Our government has fulfilled promises made in the election manifesto. In spite of rapid progress in the state, the UPA only raised obstacles in development of Himachal," chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said. In a veiled attack, Dhumal targeted union commerce minister Anand Sharma and former union minister Virbhadra Singh for not pleading the state's cause. "The attitude of both union ministers had remained negative towards the state," said Dhumal.
He targeted the Congress for scuttling the hydro engineering college proposed for Himachal Pradesh at Bilaspur. The National Thermal Power Corporation and National Hydro Power Corporation had agreed to jointly set up the college and the state government had provided land for the purpose.
"The technical education department had signed a memorandum of understanding for the college. I had spoken to the union power minister, but a minister from Himachal again put hurdles in the state government's efforts," Dhumal said, alleging that the Congress' union minister caused delay in inauguration of railway track on the Nangal-Talwara rail track. Dhumal claimed that it was only after he and the local MP took up the matter with the railway ministry that the project was inaugurated.
He added that two union ministers could not get something new for the state. "The ministers hailing from Himachal did not help the state in getting an extension to the industrial package given during the National Democratic Alliance's government." Dhumal added that the central government had reduced the quota of rice under the public distribution system from 18,500 metric tonne to 7,100 metric tonne. He charged the union government of reducing sugar and kerosene quota allocated to the state.
Lashing out at the union government, the chief minister said in spite of the fact that Himachal contributed maximum defence personnel to the country, the Centre rejected the state government's proposal for setting up a Himachal regiment.
"When there can regiments named after Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Madras, etc., then why not one named after Himachal?" said the chief minister, adding that the government's demand to have a Himalayan regiment was also rejected. "We have made it clear to the Centre that whether the next war is fought against China or Pakistan, mountains will be the battlefield. Inhabitants in hills are more suited for fighting in mountainous regions," he said.