The reported decision of the Himachal government to shift the office of the HP state ex-servicemen corporation from Hamirpur to Shimla has drawn flak from residents.
The office was opened here by the Congress government in 1981 for the welfare of the ex-servicemen living in the state. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has described the decision as anti-people, especially to the people of the lower Himachal, the Congress persons are tight-lipped over it.
Vijay Agnihotri, MLA-cum-district BJP chief, and Vijay Pal Soharu, general secretary of the party, said the decision was bound to harm the interest of people living in the lower Himachal, and the party would launch an agitation if the decision was not withdrawn.
During a press conference here on Thursday, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, chief parliamentary secretary (CPS), said the decision was taken for the administrative reasons. He, however, said efforts would be made to keep the office at Hamirpur, and he would take up the issue with chief minister VB Singh.
Lakhanpal claimed that the Congress-led Himachal government had provided several benefits to the ex-servicemen of the state and the value added tax (VAT) on items sold to ex-servicemen was also reduced to 2%.
He said the party was in favour of both serving soldiers and ex-servicemen, and their welfare would be top priority for the state government and the Congress Party.
However, Major General (retd) Bikram Singh, chairman of the state ex-servicemen corporation, denied any move by the state government to shift the office from Hamirpur to Shimla.
The corporation was established with an aim to work for the welfare and economic benefits of the ex-servicemen living in Himachal Pradesh and to plan, promote and undertake, on its own or in collaboration with or through such ex-servicemen organisations or other agencies as may be approved by the corporation, programmes of agricultural development, marketing, processing, supply and storage of agricultural produce, small scale industry, building construction, transport and such other business, trade or activity as may be approved in this behalf by the government.
Congress party insiders told Hindustan Times on Thursday that the decision of the state government would be harmful for the party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, as the BJP would try to exploit the issue during the elections.