The newly appointed Haryana BJP president Om Prakash Dhankar (58) had started working for the RSS as a Swayamsevak in 1978. Apart from holding important positions in the BJP’s student wing, ABVP, and working as national president of BJP Kisan Morcha twice, he was also a Cabinet minister in CM M L Khattar’s previous government. As he takes over as the new state BJP chief, Dhankar tells Sukhbir Siwach about his political journey and the challenges ahead.
Do you believe your appointment as Haryana BJP chief has been made keeping in view the caste equations by replacing one Jat leader with another?
Do you think I would have been appointed had I not been a dedicated and experienced worker of the party for the past 30 years? In the BJP, decisions are made keeping in view the eligibility and acceptability of the worker concerned.
How do you see the proposal of 75 per cent reservation for Haryana residents in the private sector jobs?
With this proposal, the residents of Haryana will get more opportunities for jobs. The residents of non-Hindi states get the benefit of undeclared reservation in local jobs there as they get priority in jobs because of knowledge of the local languages.
Thousands of acres of land of Haryana farmers has either been acquired or purchased in the close proximity of Delhi. Do you believe this will reduce the land holdings of farmers?
See, the usage of everything takes place as per its value. If the price of agricultural land goes to Rs 5 crore per acre, then who will cultivate bajra on it? With the increase in the value of land, its usage also changes. If the value of land is changing, the farmers should also get the benefit of it.
The farmers have staged tractor-march to oppose three ordinances introduced by the central government? How do you react?
They are being misguided by somebody. Somebody is instigating them to launch the stir by telling them lies. Open marketing is a facility offered to them to increase their income. The trade has been made easier for the farmers. If I have grown carrots and it’s purchased by Reliance, then what’s the problem in it? (As a farmer) I will fix the rates of my produce. Now, new options have been opened. It’s like an additional luxury bus has been introduced to ply along with an already existing ordinary bus. It doesn’t mean that the earlier bus would be stopped. Similarly, the mandis will keep functioning and the minimum support price (MSP) for the crops will be announced.
Is Baroda bypoll a challenge for you?
No, it’s an opportunity for us and a challenge for Congress and Bhupinder Singh Hooda because this seat was already with Congress. We are going to win it. I have already toured the constituency. There is a mood in the constituency that people want to come with the government to ensure development of the area. Hooda sahab can’t count even ten works undertaken for the constituency during his ten-year rule.
As the party’s state president, what’s the biggest challenge for you?
Even video games are not liked, if there are no challenges. The player will leave the game within two minutes, if he doesn’t find a challenge in it. So, challenges are good things in life. Currently, the biggest challenge for the state and the country is the coronavirus pandemic. On the political front, governments keep changing in many states while in some states the governments continue even for decades like in Gujarat. I want to create a stable base of BJP in all castes and communities and ideology-based cadre in the state (Haryana), so that the party governs here for a long time to serve the public.
What has been a turning point in your life?
I was working for the RSS during my college days in the early eighties. One day Lakshmi Narayan Bhala, a Marathi Brahmin, came to my home. He was also a Sangh Pracharak but was working for the ABVP (BJP’s student wing). He suggested that I work for the ABVP. He started a hunger strike at my home when I turned down his suggestion. He did not have food for the entire day. I had to accept his suggestions under pressure but later I went to the national level in the ABVP.
Another turning point took place when I applied for job of a college lecturer. That time, K N Govindacharya was General Secretary of the BJP. I went to him to seek a favour because that time there was a coalition (Lok Dal- BJP) government in Haryana. That time it was believed that jobs are not given without a sifarish. Govindacharya ji returned my ‘parchi’ and closed my fist. He told me just one sentence, ‘Don’t beg for anything from anybody in the life’. I thought he wanted to give me a bigger opportunity, I had all regards for him. Then, I didn’t appear for the college lecturer interview. Had I got that job, I would not have worked in the politics.