Interview | ‘Khattar Govt Will Return With an Even Bigger Mandate': Haryana BJP Chief

Subhash Barala tells The Wire that people will vote for the continuation of development and not dynasty rule, casteism and regionalism.

New Delhi: No chief minister in Haryana has returned to power for a second term with a mandate larger than the first time. According to confident Haryana Bharatiya Janata Party president Subhash Barala, this is a record Manohar Lal Khattar is about to break.

Sitting in a room in Haryana Bhawan, with hordes of ticket-seekers waiting in the lawns outside, Barala spoke at length about the work done and changes brought by the BJP government in the state. While in 2014, the BJP won 47 seats in the 90-member assembly, this time it is going to the polls with the slogan, “Abki baar 75 paar (This time we will cross 75).”

`No place for dynasty rule, casteism, regionalism’

On why, if at all, anti-incumbency is not a challenge for the government, Barala said: “People are comparing the Manohar Lal Khattar government with the previous ones. People are aware and every issue is keenly discussed and debated. Before our government, democratic politics did not exactly exist in Haryana. What we had here was dynasty rule, regionalism, casteism and corruption. Our intention is clear and that shows. People see there is no dynastic politics and no regionalism.”

In the same breath, he added: “While casteism in politics was prevalent earlier, our government followed the “sabka saath, sabka vikas” slogan with Khattar’s slogan of ‘Haryana ek, Haryanvi ek (One Haryana, one Haryanvi)’. The talented were promoted and people were given their rightful due.”

Coming to the specifics, he said, “Earlier, licences were not issued without bribes, but our government simplified most processes, made them online and transparent, and reduced corruption.”

`By abrogating provisions of Article 370 BJP showed it fulfils what it promises’

Asked why the BJP, which used nationalism and the Balakot airstrikes to appeal to voters, was now similarly talking of the dilution of Article 370 and nationalism, Barala said, “Indian soldiers are next to none, but in the past there was weakness of political intent. Under Modi we decided to give a strong response to the neighbouring country.”

As for Article 370, he said, “It is an issue of nationalism for BJP. We have all through stated that Article 370 and Article 35A had to go. These were not beneficial for our country or Jammu and Kashmir.”

Barala added that “from the time of the Jan Sangh till now, BJP has delivered what it promised. Ending these (Article 370 and Article 35A) was our promise. We were clear on Article 370 in the 1950s too. Dr Syama Prasad Mookerji had then said it is not possible to have two flags, two chiefs and two symbols in one country. Today that has been accomplished. It has shown the people that BJP fulfils what it promises.”

`Over 60,000 government jobs given in five years’

On the charge that Haryana has the highest unemployment rate in the country and there are over 19 lakh unemployed youth in the state, Barala said, “We gave employment to a record over 60,000 youth in five years as against 8,000 to 10,000 in previous regimes.” He said allegations of corruption were also levelled against previous regimes in giving government jobs, but that was not the case now.

Also, he said, about five lakh youth have either got direct employment, indirect employment or jobs in the private sector. “So we are far ahead of the previous governments.”

Also read | Interview: ‘Haryana BJP Govt Not Honest, Only Manner of Corruption Has Changed’

Barala said the BJP government has also come up with assured income schemes for the unemployed. “We are also giving unemployment allowance of up to Rs 9,000 per month under the Saksham Yojana to Class 12 pass, graduate and post-graduate students for 100 hours of work under different slabs. Over 76,000 youth have benefited from this scheme. Many of them later also got better jobs.”

`Respect and right price for produce to farmers’

To a question on farm distress, Barala said his government has given “respect and right price of produce” to the farmers. “There is not even a single crop – be it wheat or rice – in which they faced difficulty while selling. In south Haryana, bajra (pearl millet) and mustard grow in abundance. For the first time, the state government gave guarantee of purchase of the average output according to the acreage.”

Likewise, in the northern parts of the state, he said, “We also procured sunflower, which is grown in the Ambala-Kurukshetra belt for the first time. Also for the first time, we came out with the Bhav Antar Bharpai Yojana to provide the farmer the difference of market rate and assured rate so that no one got less than the determined procurement price.”

`First farmers’ loan waiver scheme in state’

Asked about per capita debt of the state rising from Rs 28,000 to Rs 63,000 and farmers’ debt being a major issue, Barala said, “Only this month the government announced a nearly Rs 5,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme.” This was the first time, he claimed, that the state has seen such a scheme. “Overall 9.75 lakh farmers and an even higher number of farm labourers who work for them would gain from the scheme.”

Barala also accused former Congress chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and state president Kumari Selja of misleading people on this issue of the farm loan waiver. “Our farmers understand how the Congress misled farmers on farm loan waivers in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. They will not get misled,” he said when asked about claims that only the principal would be waived and that too if the loan was taken from a cooperative banks and the farmer was willing to repay it within three months.

He said the Congress leaders were also promising to pay the premium amount for crop insurance. “But we have already started paying it. Out of Rs 6,000 that was promised under a central scheme, three instalments have already been released,” he insisted, adding that “the state government has also set aside a separate sum of Rs 6,000 for farmers, labourer and small traders.”

On the government not fulfilling its claim of making Haryana stray-cattle free by August 15, Barala said: “We inherited these problems because the previous governments did not work on them. Our government has opened nandishalas (shelters for male cattle) in all districts and is also funding gaushalas (cow shelters) in a big way. So the number of stray cattle has come down.”

`No state patronage to criminals’

While opposition parties say crimes against women have increased by over 50% during BJP rule, Barala insisted that criminals were being caught and put behind bars. “Earlier governments gave them political protection, but that is not the case now. Criminals now know they will not be able to get away. We got the accused in the murder of a Congress leader in Faridabad deported from UAE. We have also opened a large number of women police stations,” he said.