Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s home district, Rohtak, seems to be an exceptional beneficiary of his munificence.
Information obtained from the chief minister’s office under the Right to Information (RTI) Act indicate that when it comes to announcing and executing development works, Hooda’s home district gets extraordinary preference over others. In fact, since 2005 when Hooda first took charge as the chief minister, certain other districts such as Jhajjar, Sonepat and Bhiwani, too, received privileged treatment in terms of development works.
Sample this: Of the 5,135 schemes announced by the chief minister since 2005, Rohtak district alone cornered 1,237 projects. Besides, 1,082 development works have already been commissioned, while 58 works are under implementation. Hooda is an MLA from Garhi Sampla Kiloi while his son Deepender Hooda represents Rohtak in the Lok Sabha.
Since 2005, the CM has announced 436 and 372 projects for districts of Jhajjar, a part of the Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency, and Sonepat, respectively. The chief minister has a sizeable vote bank in Jhajjar and Sonepat districts and wields considerable political clout. He is known to accord special attention to these areas.
All four assembly seats in Jhajjar district are, at present, represented by Congress MLAs while five out of six assembly seats in Sonepat district were wrested by Congress candidates in 2009. In 2005 elections, four out of five assembly seats in Jhajjar district and four out of six assembly seats in Sonepat district were won by Congress candidates.
For Bhiwani district, the home district of former Haryana chief minister Bansi Lal and stronghold of his daughter-in-law, Kiran Choudhry, the chief minister has announced 415 development projects. In 2005 assembly polls, the Congress had won all seven seats in Bhiwani district. The party in 2009 assembly polls, however, could only win two seats out of five in the district.
Dadri MLA Satpal Sangwan, who won on the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) ticket, later switched sides to join the Congress.
In contrast, districts such as Yamunanagar and Chandigarh’s satellite district of Panchkula have suffered with the former getting 43 projects and the latter 47 in the past seven years. Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sirsa and Panipat districts have been ranked among those that have got less than 100 development projects.
The facts and figures lend credence to the allegations of favouritism and regional bias often levelled by Opposition leaders against the Hooda government.
RTI activist PP Kapoor who procured the information said: “It is a sheer example of imbalanced allotment of development projects. The most backward district of Mewat has got only 115 projects since 2005, while Hooda’s already flourishing home district has got 1,237 development works”.
The RTI information says the state government gave a go-ahead for constructing and opening a polytechnic in Bhiwani, an industrial training institute (ITI) at Tosham in Bhiwani (on November 28, 2007) and an engineering college at Silani village in Jhajjar on January 15, 2012. In contrast, the CM’s announcement of November 14, 2008, on raising a degree college at Assandh in Karnal was declared “non-feasible”.
Similarly, Hooda had, in 2006, announced to open an ITI at Mustafabad in Yamunanagar but the project is yet to take off.
An official announcement made on March 21, 2010, to upgrade a public health centre at Bhapoli in Panipat to a community health centre (CHC) and establishing a sub health centre-cum-delivery hut at Picholia village in Karnal are yet to be implemented. The CM had announced on November 14, 2008, that a CHC would be built at Balla village in Karnal but the state government had not sanctioned the funds for it.
The state authorities, however, were prompt to provide wrestling mats to a sports club and establishing an athletics academy in Rohtak district but announcement for constructing sports stadia at Kalweri in Karnal was declared a non-feasible project. In December 2005, Hooda announced Rs 1.62-crore project to lay the sewerage system in Assandh in Karnal but in 2012 it was dumped as an “impractical project”.