Centre discriminates BJP-ruled state, says Chouhan

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Bhopal, Feb 22 (UNI) The Congress-led UPA government was discriminating against the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh in drought assistance and allocation of foodgrains and electricity, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan alleged today.

''Despite repeated reminders and visits to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, the state had not received even a single paise from the Centre for drought relief programme in 162 tahsils'', Mr Chouhan told the Central Press Club's meet-the-press programme here.

He also charged that the Centre and the Congress were trying to create ''power crisis'' in the BJP-ruled state to garner electoral benefits by fanning discontent among the people. As part of this game, 397 megawatt from the state's share had been curtailed, while implementation of the Birsinghpur and Amarkantak thermal units by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited was being deliberately delayed, he added.

Admitting that power position in MP was much better than many Congress-ruled states, the Chief Minister said ever since the BJP came to power sincere efforts were made to increase power generation. Claiming that the state had purchased power worth Rs 600 crore to tide over the increased demand, he, however, admitted that the state sold surplus electricity during the rainy season.

''It was our strategy to sell surplus electricity during the lean season'', he said referring to Congress leader Suresh Pachouri's charge that the power-starved state was selling electricity to other states.

Mr Chouhan also alleged that the Centre had curtailed wheat allocation under the APL quota at a time when the state was reeling under severe drought and there was increased demand for APL quota wheat.

''The Centre was resorting to political discrimination in extending assistance to meet natural calamities like flood and drought'', the Chief Minister alleged, adding he would again approach the Prime Minister and others for extending liberal assistance to mitigate the suffering of drought-hit farmers.

The state had sought Central assistance of Rs 1500 crore for drought relief and a special package of Rs 24,000 crore to find a permanent solution to the recurring drought in Tikamgarh and adjoining districts in Bundelkhand region by creating small and medium irrigation projects.

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