In a heated debate on the governor's address to the state assembly, the Congress Tuesday accused the BJP government of multiple failures, prompting Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to put up a spirited defence of his government. Initiating the debate on Governor Acharya Dev Vrat's address to the state assembly on the second day of its budget session, Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri rued omission of various issues in the address, saying they indicated the government had no achievements to mention on those fronts.
There was no mention of national highways in governor's address despite tall claims of the Jai Ram Thakur.government of getting huge funds for a number of new highways from the Centre, said Agnihotri. This clearly shows that the Thakur government has failed to get approval for any new national highway from the Centre, he said, adding his government is misleading the public on this issue.
The government has also failed to do anything to reduce the state's debt, which has increased to over Rs 50,000 crore, he said, adding it has failed to fulfil most of the promises made by the BJP in its vision document released before the last assembly elections. Urging Thakur to get funds for national highways and for reducing the state debt, the leader of opposition said the CM should try to get funds from the Centre at the earliest as the Modi government will last only for 25 days. The leader of opposition said the chief minister had made tall claims on starting heli-taxi service between Shimla and Chandigarh but it was not functional for quite some time.
Accusing the Thakur government of spending a huge amount of money from public exchequer on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's public meeting in Dharamshala on the first anniversary of the government, he said the prime minister, however, did not announce any package for the state. The PM did not even lay the foundation stone for a Central university in Dharamshala, he added.
On governor's praise to the Centre's Ayushman Bharat scheme, Agnihotri took a dig at the chief minister, saying "Do not praise the schemes launched by (Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash) Nadda, he will become a threat for you." Agnihotri apparently was alluding to the fact that the Union minister hails from Himachal Pradesh.
Ruing the alleged omission of the state's law and order situation in the governor's address, Agnihotri said the issue found no mention despite a worsening crime situation in Himachal. Referring to the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna, Agnihotri said, "The small farmers will not be benefitted much with Rs 17 per day scheme of the Centre. If Thakur government is serious, it should waive farmers' loans like the Congress governments are doing after coming to power in various states."
The Congress.leader also criticised the Thakur government on water scarcity in Shimla during last summer and the public rebuke of Shimla Mayor Kusum Sadrate by Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj during the Jan Manch Programme at Chaura Maidan a few days ago. Rebutting Agnihotri's charges of huge expenditure on PM's Dharamshala visit, the chief minister said, "I can understand the opposition's concern over the prime minister's visit to Himachal twice - at my oath taking ceremony and at the first anniversary of this government."
The previous Congress government had spent a huge amount on Congress president Rahul Gandhi's Mandi rally while he was not even holding any constitutional post, said Thakur. Referring to Agnihotri's statement on Jan Manch Programmes, the chief minister said, "His concern on JMPs clearly shows that this scheme is a great success in the state."
On the issue of laying foundation stone for a Central university at Dharamshala, Thakur said the date for laying it has been finalised as February 26. On the provision of Shimla-Chandigarh helitaxi service, Thakur said he had deployed the helicopter, hired by the government for the chief minister on the helitaxi service for three days a week.
But the helitaxi service was not operational due to some technical reasons for some time now and that's why he has deployed the chopper nowadays to ferry sick persons from tribal Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts, he said. The other leaders who participated in debate included Govind Thakur, and Rakesh Pathania of the BJP and Ram Lal Thakur and Jagat Singh Negi of the Congress.
(With inputs from agencies.)