BJP’s contribution to the State has been negligible, he says

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday slammed the Prem Kumar Dhumal-led Bharatiya Janata Party government of Himachal Pradesh for “bad governance and ignoring the interests of the common man.”

Central aid

Speaking at an election rally in Una town, about 200 km from here, Dr. Singh said whatever development that had taken place in the hill State was because of central aid and the financial support extended by the UPA government.

In the past too, he said, it was the Nehru-Gandhi family that facilitated the development of the State and the BJP’s contribution was negligible. “The family had a special [bond] with Himachal and had done a lot for it.”

‘Unearned credit’

The Prime Minister said the BJP had taken unearned credit for the centrally-sponsored schemes by simply changing their names. If the Congress returned to power, it would bring the State back on track.

‘Complaint unwarranted’

Dr. Singh said the Dhumal government continued to complain of receiving step-motherly treatment from the Union government even though the Plan size for the tiny State was increased by 30 per cent and the economic package raised to Rs. 900 crore.

The State government had named the central scheme of the 108 ambulance service as “Atal Ambulance” scheme. It failed to spend the money allotted under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan, Dr. Singh said.

The Centre had opened IITs, IIMs and Central universities all over the country and under the programme, it had allotted one IIT in Mandi district and a Central University in Kangra district of Himachal.

The State had the potential of becoming highly-developed, but this was possible only if the competent Congress took charge of its reins, he said.

The Prime Minister was welcomed by Pradesh Congress Committee chief Virbhadra Singh and other senior Congress leaders on his arrival.

Meanwhile, senior National Democratic Alliance leader and BJP stalwart L.K. Advani targeted the Congress-led UPA government over corruption and price rise over the past eight years.

Addressing a rally at Amb in Una district, Mr. Advani said the UPA government would not be spared by the public in the coming elections, as had happened following the Bofors scandal in 1989.

‘People want change’

The BJP leader said the people were eager for a change and the process would start from Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. The corrupt UPA government would have to step down much before the scheduled time.

Both Mr. Dhumal and the former Chief Minister, Shanta Kumar, would be remembered for their contributions to water management and road construction in the State, while the Mr. Virbhadra Singh, also an erstwhile Chief Minister, would be remembered for his involvement in various corrupt deals, he said.

Call for open debate

Mr. Advani challenged Mr. Virbhadra Singh and PCC member Vidya Stokes for an open public debate with Mr. Dhumal.

Making a strong plea for simultaneous polls, with compulsory voting, to the Lok Sabha and Assemblies, he said these steps were necessary for strengthening the Indian democracy.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati too addressed elections rallies in Una and Kangra districts on Sunday and advised the electorate to shun both the Congress and the BJP and support her party candidates.