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Haryana

‘Early elections only if it suits BJP’-Hooda

June 23, 2018 05:14 AM

COURSTEY THE TRIBUNE JUNE 23

WATCH FORMER HARYANA CHIEF MINISTER BHUPINDER SINGH HOODA IN CONVERSATION WITH THE TRIBUNE
‘Early elections only if it suits BJP’
Hooda: All sitting Congress MLAs are doing a good job and may be fielded again in the next state Assembly electionsDo you see early elections in Haryana? And will the Congress again field its sitting MLAs?
This will depend on what the BJP central leadership thinks of the chances of the party winning the next Parliamentary elections. The way the graph of the BJP is sliding, it may go for the state Assembly elections with the Parliamentary elections to duck the national trend. But whenever the elections are held, the BJP will not touch the double digit. All sitting Congress MLAs are doing a fine job as opposition members and there is no need to make any changes. However, we will take a call about those who lost the elections last time, based on various factors.
What is your overall assessment of the BJP government?
The government has not only been an administrative failure, it missed the chance to take effective decisions on financial matters too. When the Congress demitted office, there was a debt of Rs 60,000 crore accumulated over the years from all previous governments. When the BJP presented its first budget the debt was Rs 70,000 crore. Today, the debt stands at Rs 1.6 lakh crore. Can this government tell us where has this money been spent?
What has it done with regard to building new roads, infrastructure, metros, railway lines, etc? Nothing shows up on ground, then where has the money gone. People will ask the government in 2019 and they should be ready with answers. It's obvious that besides mismanagement, there has been pilferage of government funds and resources.
You have accused the BJP of being corrupt, how do you react to the CBI cases against you?
Corruption is apparent not only in state finances but also in recruitments. Why else the Chief Minister should call the chairman of the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) and ask about the results. Why should the two discuss the results and the HPSC chairman go to the Chief Minister to discuss the functioning of the statutory body? Well! The CBI cases against me are only acts of political vendetta. The State Vigilance has referred the matter to the CBI without holding a preliminary inquiry.
The BJP describes your 10-year rule as a government by a few for a few; your comment?
Irrespective of all the propaganda against the Congress, poor people know that it was the Congress that gave four lakh plots of 100 yards each to them based on their socio-economic status. Can the BJP say that it has given plot to even one needy person? During my term as Chief Minister, we gave 20 lakh scholarships to meritorious students; all these have now been reduced. We provided 10 lakh water connections; can the BJP tell what it has done to improve the quality and quantity of water needed for domestic use and irrigation. The BJP always claimed traders to be its core vote bank but they have now united against the BJP, as the arbitrary imposition of the GST has ruined their trades. The old-age pension has either been arbitrarily cut or is been paid irregularly, making the aged people dependent on others. Every section of society is unhappy, except for a handful of people in the BJP who are neck deep in corruption.
Any decision of the state government that you think is appreciable?
Let's talk of sportspersons. Does a player play for himself, his state or the country? A medal winner is a nation's pride. It is for the first time in the history of India that sportspersons are feeling humiliated and they boycotted an official function at Panchkula, organised to honour them. Arbitrary decisions like seeking 33 per cent share of their professional income, has disillusioned everyone. Haryana wins a majority of sports medals in national and international events and such callous decisions will affect the morale of sportspersons.
How can you accuse the BJP of letting down farmers when the Swaminathan committee report came during the UPA regime?
The Swaminathan committee report did come during the UPA government. At that time a working group was constituted with the chief ministers of Haryana, Punjab, West Bengal and Bihar as its members. I was the head of that group and we recommended that farmers be compensated on the basis of a formula called C2, which basically meant ensuring at least 50 per cent profit. We recommended a maximum of 4 per cent interest on farm loan and interest free loans from cooperative banks. But farmers are still paying 12 to 13 per cent interest on loans, rendering agriculture unviable. The BJP has recommended a formula called A2+FC, which is not in the interest of farmers. As a result, the prices of their produce have crashed. Potatoes were sold at Rs 9 per kilogram in 2012, but today farmers are indulging in distress sale while some of them have even thrown the crop on roads. Tomatoes are being sold at paise 40 per kilogram. Can you imagine what it costs to produce this crop that farmers are literally throwing away in the absence of any government support? The government claims of giving an assured price for a few vegetables, but does anyone know the reality? The government favours companies producing sauce and chips but ignores potato and tomato growing farmers. Farm inputs such as diesel that were the cheapest in Haryana are today more expensive than in neighbouring states.
It is during the BJP rule that Haryana is more aggressively demanding its share of river waters; do you agree?
This BJP government has compromised with the interests of Haryana when it comes to territorial issues. In the Bhakra Beas Management Board the member irrigation was from Haryana. But the qualifications the BJP government has accepted for this position, none from Haryana will qualify for it. I would like to ask the Chief Minister whether he approved the amendment to qualifications of the member irrigation of the BBMB? Similarly, the chairman of the BBMB was also from a state other than partner states having water stakes. It is for the first time that the BBMB chairman has been taken from Himachal Pradesh, a partner state with interest in the board. This has the potential of putting Haryana in an unfair position.
The INLD is demanding early completion of the SYL canal; how do you see it?
The INLD is in a habit of shedding crocodile tears. The Supreme Court decision on river waters that the INLD is talking about is based on the Indira Gandhi award and the Rajiv-Longowal accord that were made possible by the Congress regimes. The ‘jail bharo’ campaign of the INLD is strange as its activists gather at some place and the local SDM records their arrest only to release them without any action. It's all being done in connivance with the BJP government. Otherwise, how INLD activists can be released when they have not been arrested? The BJP used to support and cooperate with the INLD, and now it is the turn of the INLD to support the BJP. The INLD goes to Punjab threatening to dig the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal just to draw political mileage from it. The people of Haryana know about these political tactics and will show these leaders their place in the next elections. The INLD is today a party of the past and nobody knows who its leaders are?
Has the INLD-BSP alliance rattled you?
As far as the INLD-BSP pre-poll alliance is concerned, I am not sure if it will last up to the polling day. There had been many such opportunistic alliances in the past that did not survive beyond a certain time. The INLD had had tie ups with the BJP and the BSP in the past too, but it is the Congress that will form the next government. There are no differences in the Congress, and the party allows a lot of freedom to all. Once the elections are announced, everyone will work under the directions of party president Rahul Gandhi and our leader Sonia Gandhi. The talk about factionalism in the Congress should not be taken seriously.
Do you see frequent law and order situations in the state as normal or do you feel concerned?
The state has disappointed its citizens. The government has repeatedly failed to save people’s lives and property. More people have lost their lives in the last four years than in all such incidents in Haryana since Independence. The government claims to be honest and transparent then what happened to the Prakash Singh Committee report that pointed to the failures of the administration during the Jat agitation for reservation and its second part that talks of improvement in police
intelligence and infrastructure. Why no action has been taken against officials for dereliction of duty as pointed out by Prakash Singh. The BJP government deals with all law and order situations keeping votes in mind. During 10 years of the previous Congress government there had been no incident when the Army had to be called in to deal with the situation. In the last four years, the Army was called in twice and that too when the state had the same officers and the administrative machinery that were there during our time. This only shows that the government deliberately messed up things to divide people on caste lines for electoral gains.
You say your government had done a lot for people then why it was best known for CLUs?
This is only propaganda. For development the change of land use (CLU) is essential. The Opposition made noise about CLUs during the Congress regime, and the same is happening now. For planned development such as setting up schools or colleges, the CLU has to be given. It is essential to ensure there is no mushrooming of unplanned development. What is different now is that the BJP has empowered deputy commissioners to grant CLUs while during the Congress regime it was done by the Department of Town and Country Planning. Each government has its own way of doing things, and CLUs had been a source of income for previous governments as is for the present government. This government claims to have zero tolerance for corruption but in fact it is the most corrupt government Haryana has ever seen.
What triggered the need to launch the Jan Kranti yatra and what kind of response are you getting?
In 2014, I said that we would play the role of a constructive Opposition and support the positive initiatives of the government. Four years have passed but the government has failed on all counts. We launched the Jan Kranti Yatra to raise our voice against the apathy of the government towards people. We have completed two phases—the first started from Palwal and the second from Panipat. In both phases we got a good response. We highlighted the failures of the government and people instantly connected with us. The government has not taken even one pro-people decision.
People see this yatra more as a pre-election campaign, why?
People voted for the BJP in the 2014 as it had made several promises, giving rise to huge expectations. Today, every section of society is disillusioned and disheartened. Farmers have been ruined, the minimum support price has been announced for mustard, but it is not being procured. The sugarcane production is booming, but a limit has been fixed on the quantity a farmer can sell. Around Rs 750 crore are payable to farmers for sugarcane. The government has imposed the GST on fertilisers and pesticides, and VAT on diesel. Farmers are up against the wall and a comparison with the performance of my government makes people realise that they have been fooled.

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