A first-time legislator Manohar Lal Khattar was sworn in as first-time chief minister in Haryana on October 26 last year. As the first-ever BJP government led by him completes one year in the office, the chief minister looks back to reflect at his debut and government’s one year performance. He shares his experiences with Chief of Bureau, Haryana, Hitender Rao during an in-flight conversation on Wednesday
HT: How do you look at your first year as chief minister? From a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak to an administrator, how has been the experience.
CM: The training rendered by RSS contributes towards human resource development. The Sangh makes one capable to accomplish every responsibility given to an individual. The basic philosophy and value system remains unchanged and is applied in the functioning of government or any other organisation. Being responsive, supportive of drown trodden and poor, providing justice to those who have been discriminated or suffered injustice, maintaining discipline, adhering to procedures and ensuring that our actions are not individual centric but in larger public interest. We are functioning in line with that training.
Which are your major accomplishments in one year?
I think we have done well in creating systems and processes in the administration. Our focus has been to lessen human interface in administration and bring technology based solutions. This will help in bringing transparency, efficiency and reduce corruption. The idea is to bring the government at people’s doorstep. See, governments are always in a hurry to earn accolades by announcing schemes but rarely concentrate on building and improving systems. I can say proudly that we have spent lot of time on laying foundation of a efficient administration based on robust system.
Any areas you excelled in?
Running administration is not an easy task. Soon after we took the reins, we were confronted with the Rampal episode. But it goes to our credit that managed a bloodless operation. Bringing a law to conserve and protect cow is another achievement. Then we were sensitive to issues of farmers such as crop losses due to unseasonal rains. We distributed Rs 1092 crore as compensation and did it well in time.
How much role the RSS plays in steering your government? Do you look towards RSS for guidance?
We draw values from Sangh and it is an everlasting process. But this does not mean there is interference of RSS in our day to day functioning. Though we often discuss and share information and developments, there is never any diktat from Sangh.
Your cabinet colleague Anil Vij is known for embarrassing his own government. What do you say?
Every minister enjoys autonomy in this government. There can be variation in how each one of them thinks and functions but our goals remains the same. An individual may have a personal opinion which does not reflect government’s view. So as a minister one should restrain from speaking publicly without discussing it first. However, Anil Vij does clarify often that many of his views are personal.
But Vij has levelled serious allegations that the state intelligence is spying on him.
See, there are certain things which should be spoken about after understanding the nuances of administration. The Intelligence wing has a job to do. And their job is to anticipate and pre-empt transgression. You know an armed person entering my office was only apprehended because of Intelligence personnel.
There is a feeling that the BJP government is sluggish, tentative and indecisive. How do you plan to overcome this drawback.
Well, there are different theories. If you look at the judicial system the underlying philosophy that innocent should never be punished even if that means letting off hundred guilty persons.
If we apply the same principle to governance would it not be apt that instead of making incorrect decisions in a haste, we make the right decision though it may consume some time. People will not remember right decisions but wrong ones will always be highlighted. Though I agree that there has to be a deadline, we have to ensure that whatever we do is right and in the state’s interest. People who want us to rush things might have vested interests.
You promised transparency and fairness in recruitments. Can youngsters hope of getting a fair deal?
In the last one year, doctors and lecturers have been recruited and there is not a single complaint. Merit is essential in public interest. Those who had lost faith in the system have high hopes from us and we will fulfill them.
You have also promised to put an end to regional discrimination in terms of development and allocation of funds. Will it hold true by the time you complete your term?
For me all the 21 districts are equal. Every assembly constituency will get about 5 crore or more for development irrespective of the MLAs political affiliation. The women police stations were made functional in all the districts simultaneously. We plan to open medical colleges in all the 21 districts. Of course, the deprived sections and areas will get special attention.
You have ordered a number of probes into the actions of the previous Congress regime, including a commission of inquiry on grant of commercial licences in Gurgaon. Do you think truth will come out?
Action will be as per law and all these cases are in good hands. I can assure that there will be no misuse of any investigating agency. Unlike the Congress led UPA which used CBI to fix rivals, the agency is now working in an independent manner.
IAS officer Ashok Khemka was given a personal hearing by you regarding his charge sheet. Is the government contemplating on dropping his charge sheet?
A decision has not been taken yet.
A CBI probe was recommended by your government into the purchase of Raxil fungicide by the previous government. Was there any political compulsions to do so since the agriculture department and even the present chief secretary has maintained that there were no wrongdoings.
See, there were two divergent views in this matter. Prima facie it looks that previous government’s decision to buy this fungicide cost the exchequer more. It is a controversial matter requiring investigation. The matter has been handed over to an independent agency- the CBI to sort out the controversy. Let the truth come out.