Gehlot challenges Vasundharas allegation
Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot has challenged Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's allegation of the Centre discriminating against the State. The Central allocation to Rajasthan during the past four years had been more than at any time in the past, he said. "The State never had it so good,' Mr. Gehlot said reacting to reports that the Centre had rejected Ms. Raje's appeal to include frost and other cold weather conditions for compensation under the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF). "In fact, her approaching Home Minister Shivraj Patil with the demand was meaningless as the Finance Commission sets the norms for CRF,' he added. Local newspapers here had reported the Centre rejecting a demand from Ms. Raje for changes in the CRF norms with a suggestion that the State could place the matter before the 13th Finance Commission. The Chief Minister had made the demand in a letter written to Mr. Patil saying that farmers in 22 districts of the State had suffered a total loss of Rs.1,000 crore due to frost and extreme weather conditions. The treasury benches had also passed a resolution in the Assembly on the issue. "It is not due to dearth of money that relief is not reaching the affected farmers. The available funds are not utilised properly,' Mr. Gehlot said. Comparing the funds made available by the National Democratic Alliance government to the previous government headed by him , Mr. Gehlot said against a Central allocation of Rs.3,000 crore under rural development during the first four years, this government got Rs.9,000 crores under the same head so far. As for the CRF norms, Mr. Gehlot said there were clear-cut guidelines regarding the use of CRF and NCCF and there was no scope for any confusion.