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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

Watch | Kumari Selja: Congress’ new Haryana boss on Sonia’s return | On The Record

On this week’s On The Record, Congress leader Kumari Selja speaks to Hindustan Times’ National Political Editor, Sunetra Choudhury.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2019 11:18 IST
Hindustan Times
Hindustan Times
Hindustan Times

On this week’s On The Record, Congress leader Kumari Selja speaks to Hindustan Times’ National Political Editor, Sunetra Choudhury. Selja was recently appointed the chief of Congress’ unit in Haryana, a state going to polls later this year. She opens up about Sonia Gandhi’s return as Congress chief and also, how the party plans to use the stricter fines under the amended Motor Vehicles Act to pile pressure on the BJP at the hustings.

The Motor Vehicles Act 2019 is set to play a role in the upcoming electoral battle in three states. The Congress party plans to use the hefty fines, as high as Rs. 20,000, and the refusal of several states including those ruled by Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), to implement the law as ammunition in the election campaign in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand.

Newly appointed Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief Kumari Selja said the MV Act will definitely be one of the issues, not the only one, the party will raise in the campaign. The party chose to highlight the issue after the MV Act confronted a backlash across the country, Selja said.

Until now, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttarkhand -- all governed by the BJP -- and opposition-ruled states like West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have either reduced the fines prescribed by the Act or refused to implement it altogether.

Selja said the Act’s implementation was an instance of the BJP executing unpopular policies, explaining why the Congress stood a chance in the assembly elections in Haryana, where just months ago in the general elections, the BJP won all 10 Lok Sabha seats.

“Those issues were different that time and (now) people want things on the ground. Look at this latest thing (MV Act). I mean go down any road in Haryana, people are reeling under this Motor Vehicle Act. Just see that,’’ she said.

Reports from various locations across India have mentioned hefty fines being levied on motorists and truck drivers for violating traffic rules under the new law, whose backers have called it a deterrent to rash driving and accidental deaths .

“Saving lives is one thing and extortion is another,’’ Selja said, “Which was the first state to oppose it? It was the model state of Gujarat. A model state doesn’t believe what the government of India is doing.’’

Minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari’s office declined to react. Haryana BJP spokesperson Rajeev Jaitley said that it showed Congress’s negative mindset. “The MV Act is for people’s safety. Are they trying to say that rural people’s lives don’t go in accidents? Why does Congress always do negative politics? ,’’ said Jaitley.

One Congress strategist who HT spoke to said that the party was firming up ways in which to use the implementation of the MV Act in the election campaign. ``There’s no point getting into security issues like Balakot and this issue is one that the BJP is firefighting with so it would be good to use that,’’ he said, requesting anonymity.

First Published: Sep 17, 2019 11:18 IST

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