As the first-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana led by a first-time state legislator, Manohar Lal Khattar, completes its first year in office, the unfortunate incidents involving the killing of Dalits in Faridabad and Gohana has dampened the government’s one-year celebrations.
While the incidents cannot be strictly termed as caste-related, their handling has left a lot to be desired. The consequent flak drawn by the state government and the apathetic remarks on the Faridabad episode made by a Central minister have put the government’s achievement card in the shade and provided ammunition to the Opposition.
However, there are lessons to be learnt from the first year, considered to be a honeymoon period for a greenhorn chief minister and his equally naive and petulant cabinet colleagues. The second year will be full of fresh challenges for Khattar and his team as there will be no “fresher”tag now. HT takes a look at some of the key challenges the chief minister will face in the second year and the areas of improvement for the government.
Forgo RSS line of thinking in policy formulation
Although ingrained in his DNA, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar will have to minimise the role of RSS in matters of policy formulation. The job is best left to his team of ministers and officers. He would do better using the extensive Swayamsewak network for feedback on implementation of government policies and programmes.
Assert and take control
A rather easygoing personality, Khattar will have to start asserting himself in the matters of administration and governance. Those close to him during his RSS pracharak days swear by his astuteness and toughness. The dormant trait will need an immediate activation for pushing the governance agenda firmly.
Expedite decision making
The inertia in the decision emanating from too much consultation and little headway is undoing the scheme of things for the BJP guard. Khattar and his team will have to pull up their socks to promptly deliberate and clinch issues.
The chief minister will have to put a lot of confidence and trust in the bureaucracy, a key factor for delivery of results. It is understandable that being a first timer, Khattar started with a handicap of being unaware of officers. But it is high time that he starts reposing his trust in the officers to earn their loyalty.
Fairness and transparency in recruitments
The chief minister has been vocal about this aspect. The challenge lies in implementing what he has been preaching by resisting political pressure. Signs are good so far as the government recently announced to do away with the interview process for Group-D posts. The government not only has a daunting task of filling a large number of vacancies at all levels, it also needs to generate employment opportunities.
While every Tuesday he holds informal meetings with cabinet colleagues for at least two hours besides having a one-on-one with each minister, the consultation process often becomes unwarranted and excessive, leading to delays. There is a need to single-handedly drive agendas which are in public and state’s interest.
Develop a core of loyal ministers
Khattar, who was handpicked for the post of the chef minister by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is yet to develop a core group of loyal ministers. Every chief minister needs a trouble shooter and Khattar will soon have to make his pick in the interest of good administration.
Translate sincerity and sensitivity into tangible example
His own personality and trait of being a sincere and scrupulous individual who is sensitive towards the problems of a common man will have to be translated into deeds. Plain honesty without tangible results will not bring any laurels.
Sensitise police officials about atrocities on weaker sections
The state police, irrespective of the regime at the helm, have been at the receiving end in matters pertaining to atrocities on Dalits and other weaker sections. The fault lies in the insensitive approach of the cops towards citizens, particularly the weaker sections. Sensitising them will not be an easy task as it entails behavioural conditioning, but a beginning has to be made somewhere. For this purpose the approach should be proactive rather than reactive.
Common man yet to feel the difference
While the BJP government has done well by introducing e-registration and e-stamping of properties -- an effort to curtail corruption in tehsils and revenue department -- the common man still faces plenty of harassment at government offices.
· Beef ban, moral science books, slokas, yoga dominated government agenda
· CM, ministers drew flak for bizarre and shocking remarks
· Dithering and lack of cohesion slowed decision making
· Government washed hands off most of its pre-poll promises
· Party cadres upset over bureaucrats calling the shots