Himachal CM corners Cong on debt issue amid Oppn walkout
The opposition Congress Wednesday staged a walkout from the Himachal Pradesh Assembly during Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur's reply on budget debate. The opposition walked out from the Assembly while Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri was heard saying that "instead of reciting couplets, the CM is not giving direct reply" to questions raised by opposition members during the discussion on budget estimates.
At this, the CM said the opposition is "trying to create an atmosphere" by staging walkout in view of the upcoming general elections. Claiming that the financial condition of the state was "worse" during the Virbhadra Singh-led previous Congress government, the CM said the state's debt burden was Rs. 46,385 crore when the public voted the Congress out of power in December 2017.
He said the Congress government had taken a debt of Rs 7,148 crore in 2017 whereas the current government took a loan of Rs 3,004 crore in 2018. The CM said the state's debt burden was increased by Rs 18,787 crore during five years' rule of the previous Congress government, whereas the BJP government led by Prem Kumar Dhumal had taken a loan of "just" Rs 7,621 crore from 2007 to 2012.
Replying to a question raised by Congress MLA Vikramaditya Singh regarding the Loktantra Prahari Samman, the CM said that those members should not talk of the period which they have not witnessed. Defending his decision of providing Rs 11,000 under the Loktantra Prahari Samman to those who had been arrested under Maintenance of Internal Security (MISA) Act during the Emergency, he said the countrymen had been "badly tortured" during the Emergency "like they had been tortured during the British rule".
Thakur also announced to provide Rs 11,000 per month instead of the same amount per year to those who were arrested under the MISA during Emergency. Earlier, while presenting the budget on February 9, he said the Himachal Pradesh government would provide Rs 11,000 per annum as Varshik Loktantra Prahari Samman. A total of 37 out of 68 MLAs took part in the budget discussion. Eighteen ruling BJP MLAs, 16 opposition Congress MLAs, two independent MLAs and the lone CPM MLA expressed their views on budget estimates.
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