Centre not discriminating with HP: Virbhadra

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Shimla, Apr 2 (UNI) Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh today refuted state Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's charge that the Centre was discriminating against the state and other states ruled by the NDA parties, saying it was, ''kind and helpful''.

Terming Mr Dhumal's statement as ''uncalled for and unjust'', he told newspersons here that the Centre had been very generous to the state's need and had recently sanctioned two battalions of the Indian Reserve (IRB), besides increasing its annual plan size from Rs 2,100 crore to Rs 2,400 crore.

Mr Singh said hundred thousands were being provided to the state by NABARD and other central agencies, besides National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and Bharat Nirman Scheme.

''Instead of being thankful to the Centre for the liberal grant, Mr Dhumal is accusing the Centre of discrimination. This is politically motivated.

It is ironical that every time he is in Delhi he meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other ministers and thanks them for their liberal grants and then comes here and accuses the Centre of being discriminatory,'' he added.

He pointed out that while all the other states, including those ruled by the NDA parties, thanked the Prime Minister for extending the scheme to every district of the country and putting his photograph in the advertisement, the HP Government did not include his photograph.

Accusing the BJP Government of being vindictive towards its political adversaries, he said it was targetting people who held key positions in the previous Congress Governments.

Mr Singh said former HP School Board Chairman (HPSEB) chairman B R Rahi, my personal secretary Subhash Ahluwalia, his wife and others holding key positions during the previous government's tenure were being targetted by the present government.

Replying to a question on whether former state horticulture minister Singhi Ram would be expelled from the party following his arrest in the fake mark sheet scandal, he said it was for the party to decide.

''However, one thing is clear. Unless one was convicted by the court, he or she should not be hanged,'' he added.

He said the present government was carrying out a witch hunt against him.

UNI AS JN LS KP2237

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