BY RATTAN MALL
ABHAY Singh Chautala, Leader of the Official Opposition in the Indian state of Haryana, is confident that his party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), along with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) with whom they have an alliance, will win the next state election.
Chautala, who is visiting Surrey, told The VOICE that the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has sorely disappointed all categories of people — farmers, youth, government employees and even businessmen – by utterly failing to fulfill any of their promises in their manifesto.
Chautala comes from a distinguished family of politicians. His father, Om Prakash Chautala, was Haryana chief minister and his grandfather was Chaudhary Devi Lal, former deputy Prime Minister of India. He began his political career as the ‘Upsarpanch’ of the Chautala village panchayat and came into the limelight after he won Haryana’s Rori assembly seat in 2000.
He said that the BJP had promised that when their government came to power, they would provide jobs for 500,000 educated youth in the state and those who would be unable to get a job would get an unemployment allowance: class 12 graduates would get Rs.6,000 and those who had graduated from college would receive Rs.9,000.
The BJP also said that ‘kisans’ (farmers) would get 50 per cent more than what the Swaminathan Commission (that was tasked with finding solutions to the problems faced by farmers) would recommend for their expenditure per quintal on their crop.
Then they told government employees that all those on temporary status (contract rate, DC rate – the deputy commissioner decides on a rate – and ad hoc basis) would all be made permanent. And they assured government employees in those categories in which their pay scale was lower than that of their counterparts in the neighbouring state of Punjab that they would get the same pay.
The BJP also promised more facilities to businessmen so that they would be more prosperous.
However, Chautala told The VOICE that none of these promises have been fulfilled and so today, people are angry and upset with the government so much so that every category of people demonstrates against the government in some way or the other on a daily basis.
“The government has totally failed,” Chautala told me, noting that the BJP won the last election because the people had got fed up with the previous Congress government.
“If an election were to be held today, the people would surely vote out the BJP government,” he added.
CHAUTALA said that the farmers are not getting the full price for their crops and pointed out that the economy was an agriculture-based one.
He said that owners of small businesses have been hit in two ways.
He explained that every country that adopted the GST had one rate for all goods, but in Haryana there were four different rates: eight, 12, 18 and 28 per cent for different items.
On top of that, he said that the biggest problem the government caused for businessmen was to make filing of income-tax returns from once a year to three times a month. So a businessman who used to pay his lawyer $10,000 to file his returns once a year, now has to pay the same amount of money every 10 days.
“This has devastated the businessmen,” said Chautala.
Also, the consumer who once had to pay Rs.100 for an item now has to spend Rs.128 on it if the GST on that is 28 per cent. Consequently, businessmen’s profits have gone done 50 per cent.
“The business community had played the most prominent role in bringing this BJP government to power. Now, they are also angry at it that they want to get rid of it,” said Chautala.
He asserted: “There is no decision-maker in government.”
Chautala said: “Unless there is law and order in the country, people lose confidence in the government. There is a law and order problem particularly in our state.”
He said the biggest problem is that small children are kidnapped, raped and killed and their bodies are thrown away. The rapist runs away, but when the pressure from the community builds up, then police implicate innocent people just to save themselves. That has also caused a lot of anger.
Chautala said that robbery, too, is rampant. There is also extortion of businessmen by criminal elements who phone them and threaten to kidnap their children or kill them if they do not get a ransom.
THE next election is due in October but according to political rumours, it appears that it will be in February.
Chautala said he is confident that his party will form the next government because people have experienced both Congress rule and BJP rule.
“Whenever we (Indian National Lok Dal) formed the government, we always fulfilled our promises to the people,” he added.
The BJP has 47 seats, the INLD 20 seats, the Congress 17 seats and independents account for six seats in the current Haryana Assembly.
“We have an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) that we announced on April 18. We have the alliance both at the Centre level and at the state level. … We always had a Third Front, but in the last Lok Sabha election we were unable to have a Third Front,” he explained.
Chautala said that now the people are against both the BJP and the Congress – they want a Third Front. Uttar Pradesh’s four-time chief minister Mayawati’s name has been proposed as the prime minister if the Third Front wins nationally.
“We have hope that many other regional parties in different states will also form Third Fronts in their own states,” Chautala told The VOICE.
CHAUTALA is well known for his love of sports and his family has been responsible for the spectacular manner in which sportsmen in Haryana have been winning medals at all levels.
As a player himself, he participated eight times in volleyball in the nationals, representing Haryana. He was also president of the Haryana Olympic Association and the Vice President of the Indian Olympic Association as well as President of the Indian Olympic Committee. Also, he was president of the Boxing Federation of India for eight years.
“I promoted sports a lot,” he told me.
“In the beginning, the best sportsmen in India used to come from the state of Punjab. But we made a sports policy when our party was in power from 2000 to 2005, when my father (Omprakash Chautala) was the chief minister, in order to encourage our sportspersons and see how we can garner more medals because India was not winning medals in international events.
“We decided that whoever wins a gold medal in the Olympics would get Rs. 1 crore [Rs.10 million]. Before this there was no such incentive in any state in the country. At that time this amount of money was a lot. Silver medallists would get Rs. 50 lakhs [Rs.5 million] while bronze medallists would receive Rs.30 lakhs [Rs.3 million]. Prize money was also announced for medallists at the Asian Games and World Cup events,” he said.
“At the sub-junior level (primary school children) also we announced that winners would get some prize money so that from the very beginning they would get some incentive. Also, children could then focus on sports instead of wasting time in other activities. The result has been that today, whether it’s the Olympics or Asian Games or any other event, Haryana by itself accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of the total medals.”