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(Source: The Financial Express)

Controversy over MS Dhoni’s Himachal Pradesh visit: Congress cries foul as BJP government accords state guest honour to ex-skipper

MS Dhoni is caught in the midst of a political row with the Congress party alleging that the former Indian captain is Himachal Pradesh’s state guest and that the BJP-led government in the state is footing the bill at the expense of the taxpayers.

Dhoni is in Shimla for an advertisement shoot along with his wife. According to an ABP News report, the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh has decided to bear all the expenses of Dhoni and his wife Sakshi.

“I respect Dhoni both as a cricketer and person but his personal trip should not have been funded by the government. If the same honour was being given to other Indian athletes then you can argue in favour of it but I believe that is not the case. Just because Dhoni is a cricketer and a former captain, he shouldn’t be getting the leverage to use the tax-payers’ money,” ABP News quoted Himachal Pradesh Congress president Sukhvinder Singh as saying.

The Jai Ram Thakur-led Himachal Pradesh government, however, stood firm on its ground. Cabinet minister Vipin Parmar told ABP News that Dhoni is a World Cup-winning captain and is always welcome in Himachal. “I see no harm in the state government honouring a champion sportsperson like him.”

Parmar added that the state government would not back away in conferring other Indian athletes with the ‘state guest’ honours.

“There is no question of favouring Dhoni because he is a cricketer. We would be more than happy to confer the same honours to other Indian athletes when they visit our state,” the minister said. Dhoni, not a part of the Indian Test side, is expected to be back in action when the Indian ODI side travels to UAE for the Asia Cup, starting on September 15.

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