The law and order situation in Haryana is deteriorating; reports indicate that six rapes have taken place last week. The principal Opposition, the Congress Party, is up in arms and has demanded the removal of the state chief minister M.L. Khattar. Former chief minister of Haryana and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda speaks to Ashhar Khan on the prevailing situation in the state.
You have seen what has happened in your state. You met the Governor in Chandigarh recently. What are your demands?
I am deeply pained at what is going on in Haryana. I am also very angry at the state government that the situation has come to this pass. The law and order situation in Haryana is worrisome. Four to five incidents of rape being reported within a span of just 48 hours is shocking. The crime graph has been going up during the past three years of Khattar government rule. We have unequivocally demanded that the CM should step down with immediate effect. We have met the Governor and submitted a memorandum drawing his attention to what all has been happening in the state. We requested him to dismiss the government and impose President’s rule in the state, in case Mr Khattar does not resign. People have lost faith in this government. The crime graph is rising while the government is watching like a bystander.
The chief minister has said that these incidents are unfortunate and he will take strict action so that the guilty are not spared. You have to say that he is trying?
That is the problem. He has been trying since last three-and-a-half years since this government came to power but unfortunately nothing much has been achieved. They have made Haryana unsafe.
Let us just look at the figures: Haryana ranks sixth in the country for crimes against women; 1,187 rapes, 700 sexual harassment cases, 1,860 cases of assault, 2,697 kidnapping and abduction cases, 821 cases involving abduction for forced marriage, 3,314 cases of domestic violence, 260 dowry deaths and 123 cases of abetment to suicide. In 2016 as many as 191 cases of gang rapes were reported. The time to “try” is over now; the chief minister should just move out. We need to take steps for women safety on an urgent basis.
There are reports coming in that the BJP top leadership has pulled up the Haryana chief minister and asked him to take action. Do you think that the situation will improve now?
As I said earlier that now it is time for Khattarji to go. The BJP government has lost the confidence of people of the state. Hence, there is no need for them to be in power in the state. Let me give you just a brief history of the tenure of this government. Massive violence in Panchkula when the Haryana government allowed people to assemble there in August last year when the verdict was being pronounced in the Dera case. Over 30 people lost their lives in the widespread violence and nearly 250 others were injured.
Similarly, during the Jat agitation the BJP and its representatives could not control the situation; some intemperate remarks were made and the situation became worse leading to blockade of national highways.
Thirty people died during the agitation; there was massive loss of life and property. In a bid to fool people, the state government formed the Prakash Singh committee to look into the reasons of violence during the Jat agitation. The committee, in its report, has clearly stated that there was a total failure of governance.
Officers who should have shown responsibility and leadership abdicated their duties. Apparently they do whatever pleases their political masters. If this is the prevailing situation one can very well imagine what is going on in the administration of the state.
If the present chief minister does not resign then what will the Congress do?
We have made our demands very clear. We met the Governor and apprised him of the situation prevailing in the state. The people of the state, especially farmers, unemployed youth and the common man, are in a miserable condition, while the BJP government seems to be in a deep slumber. We have been trying to wake up the state government for more than three years. We will now have to seek people’s blessings to oust the BJP regime from Haryana.
Apart from the law and order situation how do you judge the performance of the present Haryana government?
It is shocking that this government has done almost nothing in the last three-and-a-half years. It is just appalling to look at their track record. When I was the Chief Minister, we established five power plants, built national highways measuring nearly 2,000 km, provided 100 square-yard residential plots to 3,82,000 poor families, set up 35 new universities and five medical colleges in the state. However, the present BJP government in Haryana cannot list any concrete achievement. We gave good prices to farmers for their yield; when sugar was at Rs 28 rupees per kg we fixed the MSP of sugarcane at Rs 310 rupees.
Look at the Dadam Mining Scam; the BJP leaders are so good at digestion that they digested stones! When we were in power we got in the “Dal Roti Yojna” which benefitted almost 1.26 crore people in the state. To our utter dismay this government has stopped this scheme. This government is only about propaganda and nothing else.
What are your political plans for the future?
Despite the tall promises, which the BJP had made to the people of Haryana before the polls, during the last three years it failed to take a single decision to give relief to the common man. What they did is only event management. It is not the time for manthan now, it is time to hit the roads and force this government to go. We have already started holding panchayats with dalits, farmers and trader meets. From our interactions with the people we have got to know that no section of the society is happy with the present government. It is indeed surprising.
You are undertaking a yatra in February to cover entire Haryana, what is the aim behind such a move?
In February I will be taking out a yatra the objective of which is to expose the BJP and its government. The BJP had made 154 promises in its manifesto and not a single promise has been fulfilled. The Khattar government is functioning like an event management company.
People from every section of the society are suffering due to the ill-conceived decisions of the BJP government. The objective of my rath yatra will be to highlight the failures of this government and turn the tide against the BJP. For instance, Haryana never charged for sprinkler and drip irrigation system. Now, this government has forced the farmers to pay 18 per cent GST on these.
Similarly, the government has increased the tax from 5 per cent to 18 per cent on certain other implements. Sugarcane producers are forced to sell their produce in Uttar Pradesh at much lower rates as they don’t get payment for their crop on time. All these issues will be highlighted in my yatra.