PM calls upon people to reject BJP

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Bilaspur, Dec 17: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called upon the people of Himachal Pradesh to reject the BJP for allegedly trying to divide them on regional, caste and religious lines and its role in corrupt practices during its tenure at Centre and the state.

Addressing his first election rally in the state on the last day of campaigning, he said the people must identify BJP's ''real face'' and the charges against its previous government in the state and decide for themselves if the party deserved their votes. ''You know when it was in power, the development had come to a standstill and the state exchequer had gone empty.'' Mr Singh sought another chance for the Congress in the state for maintaining continuity in development, which, he said would suffer if people voted for the BJP.

''Vote for Congress if you want an environment of development and peace in the state. If you bring Congress to power in Himachal, the Centre will give more financial help to the state,'' he said.

Himachal has emerged as one of the top states in the country so far as development was concerned after being granted statehood on the initiative of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, he said.

''The credit for this achievement goes to the vision of former Chief Minister Y S Parmar, who laid a solid foundation of the state.'' ''As also the successive Congress state governments, which ensured equal development in education, health, road network and industrial infrastructure. Himachal will one day be known as one of the best in the world in terms of facility and other human indices,'' he added.

The Prime Minister said the Congress envisaged developing it on ''the lines of Switzerland'' by giving a boost to tourism and improving its existing infrastructure, including the airports.

Ever since the UPA Government came to power, it had shared cordial relations with the state and the Centre would extend all possible financial aid to the state, he added. Referring to the state's growth rate of 9.5 per cent, he said it was a good sign that it had 100 per cent banking facility and every household here had a bank account.

Dr Singh said keeping in view the conditions in the hill state, the centre had extended the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to all the 12 districts of the state.

''We have also taken up work on the Bhanupali-Bilaspur rail line project, which was a long pending demand of the people and the government here,'' he said.

The Centre had also chosen Shimla for the Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JLNURM), under which a massive infrastructure development would be undertaken in the Shimla town.

Lauding the Virbhadra Singh Government for its efforts in education, health, social and industrial sectors in the past five years, he said it had also succeeded in generating huge employment opportunities during the period.

Himachal had attracted industrial investment of Rs 27,000 crore, which would generate employment for over three lakh people, Dr Singh added.

He said besides, several hundred schools and colleges in the state, the Centre had also promised to set up an IIT and a Central University in the state to make it an educational hub of the country.

The centre was committed to promote horticulture and floriculture in the state and help out its fruits and flowers reach the world market, the Prime Minister added.

UNI

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