Leader of Opposition in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Mukesh Agnihotri on Saturday took on the ruling BJP over the budgetary provisions, terming the state Budget as hollow and directionless. Initiating the discussion on the Budget tabled in the Assembly on Friday, Agnihotri said the chief minister announced to reduce the age limit for the old-age pension from 70 years to 60 years but capped the number of new beneficiaries at 40,000. Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania took a strong note to Agnihotri’s statement, to which the Congress leader replied that the ruling party MLAs should read the Budget tabled by chief minister. "If I am telling a lie, I will resign. Otherwise, the CM should resign," he added terming the Budget as hollow and directionless. Speaking about a recent protest by state government employees over the demand for the implementing the old pension scheme, he said the CM challenged them by not talking to them outside the Assembly.
The CM is adopting double standards, he said, adding that an FIR has been lodged against 44 people. The protesters did not damage any property but water cannons were used against them and they were lathicharged, he added. Agnihotri said according to the CM, the debt burden on the state is currently Rs 63,200 crore. It will increase to Rs 70,000 when the tenure of this government ends in a few months, he added. Agnihotri said drinking water contracts of Rs 2,800 crores had been given to five companies under the Jal Shakti Mission, which has become a scam. Reacting to the Congress leader’s statement, CM Jai Ram Thakur said Agnihotri did not speak facts. "You (Congress) have destroyed the state, the history will not pardon you," he alleged.