Manohar Lal Khattar has been media shy since he took over as Chief Minister of Haryana. In his first interview since taking charge, he speaks to Vipin Pubby about his government’s vision, priorities and policies. Excerpts:
What have you identified as priority areas?
One of the most important goal that we have set up for ourselves is to bring transparency in governance. We are aiming to work towards eradication of corruption by plugging loopholes in the system and to see to it that there is a less scope of discretion. I feel that discretion is the main cause of corruption.
Could you specify the steps you intend to take in this direction ?
For instance, we want to minimise marks allotted for interviews in various selections and appointments. There is a possibility of corruption or favouritism whenever there is more discretion in the selection process. We would like to bring down marks for interviews to 10 per cent, or even less.
Will such reforms be limited to recruitments ?
No, we shall introduce systems which leave little scope for corruption and we shall follow the best practices from all over the country. For instance, we intend to adopt the Tamil Nadu model for purchase of medicines. I have been told that ever since that the state created a corporation for purchase of medicines, the price of basic medicines has dropped sharply by about 50 per cent.
Do you intend to investigate allegations of corruption against the previous government, particularly in high-profile cases ?
Our focus in on the future of the state. What happened in the past is not our priority. However, we shall ensure justice for anyone who had suffered any loss due to the past decisions . But, there would be no general inquiry. We don’t intend to go witch-hunting.
Any plan to review the land acquisition policy of the previous government?
We shall make it absolutely transparent. There will be no backdoor deals. We shall try to see that acquisition of productive land is strictly avoided.
Do you propose to bring out a white paper on the financial health of the state ?
We have begun the process, but our main aim would be to find out how much better the state could have done with the resources at its command.
There were allegations that your government went slow in dealing with Satlok ashram of Rampal.
The police did not fire even a single bullet. In fact, two of our policemen had received bullet injuries. It was a sensitive situation and I think police and administration handled it well.
Any evidence of the dera’s links with Naxals ?
We are looking into any unlawful activities taking place inside the dera, but so far we have not found any evidence of nexus.
You reportedly said your government would review all the decisions taken by the Hooda government.
I had said that we would review all the 182 decisions taken by the previous government after the Lok Sabha results were declared. However, we would not scrap all such decisions, and like to retain the good ones.
There are allegations that you take decisions after consulting BJP high command and RSS?
It is absolutely incorrect. I do consult senior leaders, my cabinet colleagues and even opposition parties, but it is wrong to say that I have to take nod from the party headquarters.
To what do you attribute the delay in taking some vital decisions ?
As regards the initial delays, well I was not prepared to become the CM. Also, I admit that I am still a student of Class I and need time to learn.
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