MP CM, ministers fast; oppn spews fire

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Bhopal, Apr 30 (UNI) Even as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his cabinet colleagues began a 24-hour fast from 1100 hrs today to protest the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime's ''discriminatory'' attitude towards the state, the main opposition Congress slammed the move as undignified.

''The BJP allegation is baseless and unfortunate,'' Congress state President Suresh Pachouri said in a statement issued here.

He claimed that, as opposed to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance regime's assistance of Rs 1,773.14 crore to Madhya Pradesh in 2003-04, the UPA gave Rs 2,431.74 cr in 2004-05, Rs 5,821.36 cr and 13.79 lakh tonnes foodgrain in 2007-08.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Jamuna Devi described the fast as mockery of democracy and wrote to the Chief Secretary that a white paper be issued on central assistance.

The fast was being organised to highlight the Centre's ''stepmotherly'' treatment in allotting foodgrain, not providing assistance to combat drought in 37 of 48 districts, slashing the state's share of electricity from the central pool and curtailing coal supply to thermal stations as part of a conspiracy to create a power crisis ahead of the assembly elections, the Chief Minister said.

Mr Chouhan is observing 'upvas' at the bustling Roshanpura square in the local New Market.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Chouhan said that the federal structure as provided in the Constitution would suffer a setback if the Centre ignored due interests of the states. ''The Centre should mend its attitude,'' he felt.

UNI Team-AC MIR KP2131

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