In this Idea Exchange,Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda speaks about the state’s land acquisition policy,the comparisons with Gujarat,and the new “pro-incumbency factor” in elections. This session was moderated by Resident Editor,Chandigarh,Vipin Pubby
Khushboo Sandhu: You have been comparing the performance of your government with Gujarats. Why this comparison with Gujarat,why not with other states?
the Haryana government is not making any comparisons. It is the media that is doing so. If there is some development in Gujarat,I am happy for it because the state is part of India and its the country that is developing. But there are certain basic parameters. I have looked at 119 of these parameters and analysed Haryanas performance. I only want the media to give me my due. The comparisons are based on the Planning Commissions figures.
Raghvendra Rao: Gujarat is a much bigger state. Is it a fair comparison in the first place?
Gujarat has many natural resources,the sea shore… Haryana has nothing,no natural resources. We do not even have our own airport,we do not have a high court. I have been hearing questions from the media on comparisons with Gujarat. You ask me to compare Haryana with any state,I can do that. We are the highest in per capita investment and resource mobilisation. We have the highest per capita income in the entire country.
Jaskiran Kaur: But it is widely said that if Gurgaon is taken out of Haryana,the state wont have much to talk about.
Can you take out Jamnagar and the sea shore from Gujarat? How can you take Gurgaon out of Haryana? And here I am trying to make more Gurgaons in Haryana… I am the first in the country to give landowners the right value for their land. That is what the new Land Acquisition Bill is about. When I became Chief Minister,almost overnight landowners realised the economic value of their land. Even after getting the full compensation amount,the landowner will continue to get annuity for 33 years. Go to any village of the state and you will find that we have given market rates for the land. Before we took over,farmers were being looted by previous governments.
The Congress faces no threat from anybodyModi or no Modi. That is the BJPs internal matter. Modi belongs to the BJP. He does not matter to the Congress. But if you ask me what impact Modis elevation has made,it is clear from the political developments that have taken place in Bihar. The NDA which was a coalition of around 20 political parties has been reduced to merely three.
Sukhdeep Kaur: It appears that the Congress in Haryana faces a bigger threat from within the party than outside. Is that correct?
No,there is no infighting within the Congress in Haryana. What you see is the ambition of party leaders; you cant call that infighting. People are in politics to realise their aspirations and there is no harm if they voice their demands.
Raghvendra Rao: A lot of people in the party have been openly speaking against you. Are they doing so because they are ambitious or are there other factors involved?
There are no other factors. The Congress is a democratic party. Everybody has his own say,own idea. But when it comes to the crunch,it is a united party. It is like a family.
Chitleen Sethi: But economic success apart,do you think Haryana has also progressed as a society? Why does Haryana have one of the lowest sex ratios in the country?
Haryana has progressed socially and culturally too. Haryana women get medals in sports. Our children have been bagging top ranks in entrance tests to IIMs,IITs and IAS. The first woman mountaineer was from Haryana. The first Indian woman wrestler to bag a gold (in the Commonwealth Games) from Haryana. Discus thrower Krishna Poonia,who participated in the Olympics,is from Haryana. Now the media needs to change the way it looks at Haryana. You need to go to villages to find whats happening on the ground. As far as sex ratio is concerned,other states also have poor sex ratiosDelhi,Punjab… In the Indian Navy,there are two women pilots and both are from Haryana. I am not defending Haryanas sex ratio,but things are changing. After the Congress came to power,the states child sex ratio has improved.
Chitleen Sethi: With the Chautalas behind bars,are the Congresss prospects in the state brighter?
That is immaterial. The Congresss future prospects are brighter because of our work. That has been proved in the recent corporation elections. The BJP and INLD contested on their party symbols and the results are for everyone to see. Of the 140 candidates who won,over 100 are Congress-backed.
Sukhdeep Kaur: There are several controversies plaguing Haryanas land release policy. Builders enter into a pact with the farmers and the land is released back to the people from whom the government had acquired land. What do you have to say to that?
There is no controversy. You give me one concrete example and I will explain. We dont release acquired land. Under the Land Acquisition Act,we invite objections,conduct inspections and prepare the report. It is the same process throughout the country. This was being followed by previous governments as well,its not the Congresss policy.
Varinder Bhatia: How did Haryana respond to the calamity in Uttarakhand?
I visited the state,met the Chief Minister and offered to adopt a few villages. We have done the same in Gujarat and Bihar. Uttarakhand is our neighbouring state. Our engineers will go to Uttarakhand and help in the repair work.
Nitin Sharma: Sportspersons from Haryana are doing well at the national and international levels. What steps has the government taken to promote sports further?
I am a sportsperson myself. Sport has its own role in personality development. It has to be a part of your life. I was born in a village and I know that there is a lot of potential in our villages. Thats why we have a sports policy in place. As part of the policy,we built 225 Rajiv stadiums in villages,each costing over Rs 50 lakh. We established academies and talent hunt programmes called SPAT for budding sportspersons between the ages of 8-14 and 14-19. The top 5,000 students who clear the SPAT test are given monthly scholarships with a condition that they should come to the playground and train. The third aspect of our sports policy is that the future of these sportsmen should be secure. If you now go to the villages in the morning,you will find young boys and girls running on the roads. We have been able to channelise their energy in a positive way. When I started SPAT,we received 80,000 applications from Haryana youngsters,out of which 40,000 reported for the programme. This time,more than 18 lakh participated in the SPAT programme.
Raghvendra Rao: Where do you think Punjab has faltered when it comes to promoting sports?
I cant speak for other states. But I feel bad about Punjab because in 2005,Punjabs planned budget was much higher than Haryanas and now we are way ahead of them.
Chitleen Sethi: What is the status of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project in Haryana? We hear of a few investors pulling out. Also,what is the status of the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway project?
These are a few early-bird projects that we planned. It has not fully materialised yet. I dont think there are any instances of investment being pulled out. The KMP Expressway project is delayed. The Supreme Court is monitoring it. The last time we had a meeting on the project,the Delhi Chief Minister was also there. The concessionaire had then promised a date which has now lapsed. I alone cannot take a decision on it because the Supreme Court is supervising it.
Jaskiran Kaur: There was talk that Haryana would revoke the ban on student elections in universities and colleges across the state? Is that a possibility?
Student elections should be there,but we need to see how we can do that without affecting academics. We need to see if the Delhi University pattern should be followed,but we have to study all this before taking any decision.
Raghvendra Rao: Recently,Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal named Mullanpur,a township close to Chandigarh,as the New Chandigarh. Whats your reaction?
The chemistry of Chandigarh cannot be changed. If I name Gurgaon as the new or modern Delhi,what does that mean? It is not an ethical thing. A part of Chandigarh railway station is in Panchkula. Can I change its name? No. He (Badal) wanted to change the name of the international airport to Bhagat Singh Airport,Mohali,but I did not allow that. I said that the airport will be called Bhagat Singh Airport,Chandigarh,and the matter ends there. I have pointed it out many times. Now it is for Badal to decide.
Vandana Batra: The Punjab Chief Minister has made his son Deputy CM. Do you have similar plans for Deepender Hooda?
It is not necessary for a father to bring his son to politics. When I became MP,my father retired. I havent planned anything. Deepender is performing his duties well. I am satisfied with his performance as a Member of Parliament.
Shishir Tripathi: For Haryana,what are the advantages and disadvantages of being so close to the national capital?
There are lots of benefits that come our way as a result of our being in the periphery of the national capital. Thats why we got KMP,now the Metro is coming to many areas in Haryana and the state is getting an educational hub. There are both positives and negatives,but,overall,we are in a beneficial position.
Sukhdeep Kaur: Your critics say development in Haryana has not been very balanced. What do you say to that?
It is incorrect to say that. If I give scholarships,all those who are eligible across the state get it. It is the same for old age pension or when we give,say,plots. All these schemes are implemented across the state. You go anywhere,there is inclusive development across Haryana.
Yogesh Rajput: How long will it take to bring the Metro from Gurgaon to Manesar?
The Metro is fully functional in Gurgaon and as far as bringing it till Manesar is concerned,a detailed project report (DPR) is being made.
Raghvendra Rao: Recent elections have returned incumbent governments. How do you view this trend? Do you think national issues have a role to play in state elections?
Just like in Delhi,you will see the Congress coming back to power for the third time in Haryana. National issues have some impact on state elections if both the elections are held simultaneously,but the results can be different. The voter is very intelligent. For instance,during the 1996 elections,I secured a lead of 30,000 votes as the Congress candidate in the Rohtak Assembly segment of the Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency. However,the Congress candidate contesting the Assembly election from the same segment lost the seat by a similar margin. It happened on the same day. Voters know whom to bring to power at the Centre and who should be ruling the state.
Baninder Rahi: Haryana has a poor track record when it comes to inter-caste marriages.
Inter-caste marriages are happening in Haryana. But as far as same gotra marriages are concerned,that is still an issue. People do not accept it. But it is not just in Haryana. There are traditions and customs that people follow. We should try and understand this. Honour killings dont just happen in Haryana,they happen everywhere.
Varinder Bhatia: Why is the conviction rate in crimes against women so poor in Haryana?
The courts have to answer that. It depends on the investigation too,besides various other factors. If you register a case but withdraw it later,what can the prosecution do? There is no laxity on the part of the government.
Transcribed by Varinder Bhatia