7 min read.Updated: 01 Sep 2019, 11:28 PM ISTGyan Varma
The biggest difference from the last assembly elections is that we are in the government now and not in Opposition
There was big-ticket corruption in Haryana and also petty corruption which used to affect people in their daily lives
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will benefit from the Union government’s recent decision to abrogate Article 370 and 35-A and make instant triple talaq illegal, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said in an interview during his ongoing Jan Ashirwad Yatra ahead of the assembly elections. The chief minister said that the state government will present its report card before the people and seek their blessings for a consecutive term but clarified that leaders who are joining the BJP from other parties have not been promised nomination for the elections. Edited excerpts from an interview:
What are the major elections issues for the state government in the upcoming assembly elections?
The biggest difference from the last assembly elections is that we are in the government now and not in Opposition. Now, when we go to the people, they would want to know what the state government has achieved in the last five years. So, we will present our report card before the people. There are many issues related to the Union government. We are spreading awareness among the people about the development work done at the national level and in the state. If they are pleased with the performance of the state government, they should elect us again. We are also asking people to compare the work done by our government in the state to the work done by other political parties when they were in power. We want the blessings of the people again.
You are the first chief minister of the BJP in Haryana and have completed five years in government. How do you look back at the journey?
I am very satisfied with the work done by the state government and I am confident that the targets set by us in the beginning have been achieved in the last five years. People of the state were troubled by the problem of corruption in Haryana. There was big-ticket corruption in Haryana and also petty corruption which used to affect people in their daily lives. We had promised to provide a transparent government and we have achieved it. People expect that the government would provide transparent governance and accountability. We are trying to develop the state but are also trying to transform the lives of people. We are trying to help the people in their day-to-day lives.
When you go to the people of the state to ask for a consecutive term in office, what are the achievements of the state government you would want to portray?
The major achievements include improvement in road infrastructure, education, and improvement in the network of health institutions. We had promised 24X7 power and we have succeeded in providing this in 4,100 villages of the state. We will provide it in the remaining villages soon after the elections. It was a dream to have 24X7 power in Haryana but we have achieved it.
We have worked to provide irrigation facilities to farmers and also in the field of redistribution of water to farmers. We have tried to improve the level of education in schools and gave preference to skilling people so that they can find jobs or start their own business. We have generated employment in the state. Our recruitment in government services is on the basis of merit.
The state government has also tried to generate employment through the 50,000 MSMEs in the state. Nearly 5 lakh people got employment in this sector. We have also promoted self employment through the Mudra scheme.
We have tried to reach everyone through development work. We are providing housing under the Housing For All scheme, but the houses will also have toilets, electricity, cooking gas facility, and now clean and safe drinking water facility will also be provided. This is like a complete package for the poor and the socially marginalized.
We have also started a programme to provide assistance of ₹6,000 annually to people. It is basically a social security scheme. We had noticed that people did not have life insurance, health insurance, crop insurance, pension for farmers, unorganized workers and small traders. We will provide premium for all these schemes so that people can benefit from these government programmes. This scheme will secure the future of every family.
Opposition parties have often alleged that the politics of BJP is primarily focussed on non-Jat voters, how do you plan to address this allegation?
There is no question of non-Jat politics, so there is no need to change it. We talk about the welfare of people and our slogan is ‘One Haryana’ and we are taking people of the state together. People of Haryana are like my family and that is how the state government is functioning. These allegations are false.
Haryana is a state where national security has been a big issue. During the 2019 general elections also, the 2016 surgical strike and the recent Balakot air strike became a major talking point. Do you think national security will be an issue in this elections as well?
National security is an issue that is connected to the Union government and is not a state-specific issue. We are aware of these issues, but the issues related to the state government are for the welfare of the people. As national security is about the security of the country, we the people of Haryana will contribute in this direction.
How will the recent abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A along with making instant triple talaq illegal, impact the assembly elections?
The abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A along with making instant triple talaq illegal increases the credibility of the government. It also conveys a message to the people the party is talking about nationalism and the approach of the government is nationalistic. This allows the party to connect with the people and the party will benefit because of the credibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union government. These are not state-specific issues but national issues. The support of the people to the Union government at the Centre because of these issues will benefit the party in Haryana.
During the last elections in Haryana, corruption was a major issue and the BJP had talked about the corruption allegations against former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. What kind of legal action has been initiated against the corruption cases in the last five years?
Corruption allegations against the previous state governments was a major issue so we have forwarded complaints to central investigative agencies in all such corruption cases. The agencies are carrying out investigations. The Supreme Court is monitoring some cases, while same cases are in the high courts, some cases are with the Central Bureau of Investigation and some before the Enforcement Directorate. Corruption cases within the state are being handled by the vigilance department. We are now witnessing results in some cases. There were at least 14 industrial plots that were illegally given to family members of politicians. They have been taken back. Similarly, the income-tax department acted against the alleged hotel of Kuldeep Bishnoi. These investigations in corruption cases are moving forward and the cases will be solved and taken before the court.
Employment generation has been a major challenge for all the state governments and also for the Centre. How do you plan to address this problem in Haryana?
We have not just given 18,000 jobs. The staff selection commission has also appointed at least 72,000 people. The Haryana Service Commission has also given 3,000 jobs. However, apart from government jobs, people have got jobs in several corporations and 50,000 MSMEs have employed nearly 5 lakh people. We plan to ensure the skill development of people so that they can benefit from self employment schemes. We want the youth to become job givers and not job seekers.
Rural distress is a major problem. What steps have you taken to address this issue, as Haryana is an agricultural state?
Haryana is not facing rural distress to the extent that it is there in other parts of the country. In the last five years, we tried to address the concerns of famers and increased the minimum support price. The state government has purchased all the crop that was not sold, improved irrigation facilities, provided insurance facilities, and subsidized micro irrigation. The government is also considering waiver of some part of loans of farmers, probably interest or penalties. We will form a policy and take this further.
Haryana is now number 3 in the ease of doing business index. How did this change take place?
We have changed and improved the system in the state. The system of e-governance has been made more efficient. We have made a single-window system by bringing together 17 different departments so that people get clearance within 30 days. Our next aim is to become number 1 in the ease of doing business.
Many leaders from different parties are joining the BJP in the state. How will you handle this at the time of ticket distribution?
Joining a party is different from getting a ticket to contest elections. We have never promised anyone at the time of joining that they will be given election tickets. People are free to join the BJP and if we feel that someone should get election ticket then it will be done.
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