Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh virtually kick-started his campaign for state polls, due later this year, by addressing a rally in Mandi district where he launched a scathing attack on BJP. Addressing a Sankalp Rally in Balh Assembly constituency he claimed, “The Union government replaced the Planning Commission with NITI Aayog without consulting the states which were left in the lurch.”State governments should have been taken into confidence and the draft of the Aayog should have been prepared according to the financial needs and topography of the states, he said.
Claiming that the NITI Aayog has “completely failed” in planning and the states are seldom invited to any of the meetings, Singh said, “Scrapping the Planning Commission overnight was not a pragmatic decision and it has halted the progress of the states.”
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The Chief Minister claimed that during the tenure of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Planning Commission had been functioning efficiently, but a “totally opposite” scenario has emerged today.
He said Vajpayee never differentiated between states in terms of allocation of funds. Speaking about development works in the state, Singh said since its inception in 1948, road length has increased from 283 km to 37,000 km, health institutions have been opened in every nook and corner of the state.
Inspite of opposition from BJP the number of government educational institutes has crossed 15,500, including 119 colleges, four universities and other institutes of higher education, the Chief Minister claimed. “BJP leaders become impatient when elections are near and start issuing irrelevant statements to misguide the people for electoral gains. But Congress firmly believes in secularism,” he said.
Irrigation and public health minister Vidya Stokes said 52 per cent of the state budget was spent on social welfare and exhorted people to be aware of “BJP’s false promises”.