The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress states in power tussle

New Delhi, April 30: The Congress high command may have to intervene in power disputes involving some of the states where the party rules.

Two such states — Chhattisgarh with surplus power and power-deficient Madhya Pradesh — are involved in a dispute over the sale of power from the former to the latter.

Elsewhere, Himachal Pradesh, which has surplus power, and Punjab, which has a deficit, are also finding it difficult to work out an arrangement.

Party sources today said the Himachal government might soon approach the high command to help it get a satisfactory deal on sale of surplus power to Punjab. They said Himachal needs to sell power to Punjab to improve its precarious fiscal position.

The Virbhadra Singh government risks reneging on its key poll promises if it fails to sell power. At present, the government’s revenue collection is not enough to pay the salaries of government employees.

Himachal leaders have said they might approach senior leader Manmohan Singh to resolve their dispute with the Punjab government, which is apparently going slow on talks.

The problem is more serious in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, both headed for polls later this year.

The two governments have been quarrelling openly over electricity. Madhya Pradesh suffers from an acute shortage of power, but Chhattisgarh is not stepping forward to help it out.

While Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh regards his Chhattisgarh counterpart, Ajit Jogi, a rival, Chhattisgarh feels it did not get its due share when it was carved out of Madhya Pradesh two years ago. Apparently, Jogi is trying to extracting an “unreasonable” price for transfer of surplus power to the parent state.

The situation might compel the high command to intervene, sources said. Digvijay was in the capital today for discussions with the party leadership, although it is not clear if this issue was discussed.

There are indications that the issue might be discussed in the next Congress chief ministers’ conclave, expected to be held by end-June.

The conclave might be held in Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, although Maharashtra is also in the running to host the meet.

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