The State govt. has completed 6 months, and it's time for the first review – after the 100-day ‘preview’. Despite the presence of many local ‘heavyweights’ across the State, the choice of Khattar as CM was unexpected. It is a measure of the ‘new’ CM’s transparency, and even political sagacity, that the State govt. has boldly put out its 6-monthly performance. The govt. seems to believe that it has started walking its talk. Here’s FG’s view. While the govt. has rightfully started probing the suspected scams (mainly property related) of the past, it has thankfully not got bogged down with them. Of course the CM has ‘conveniently’ said that it will take time to get the ‘derailed’ system back on track. A White paper on the State’s finances was presented before the (State) Budget. An SIT, headed by the Lokayukta, had concluded that Rs 10,000 crores was the estimated property fraud committed over the past decade. The CM had responded with a clampdown on the approval of CLUs (Change of Land Use), an instrument that allegedly had been grossly misused. The State has provided adequate and fairly timely compensation to farmers affected (even 33%) by the unseasonal rainfall. The (agrarian) State has introduced the concept of Haryana Fresh (for fruits and vegetables) and Mega Food Parks. Surprisingly, a ‘novice’ CM has taken to the e-world instantly – the State has announced a time-bound delivery of 163 e-services. In fact it has set up an e-PMS tracking for all more than Rs 50 crores projects (on the lines of the Centre, which is tracking all projects over Rs 1,00 crores). e-admissions have started for schools. Aadhaar Card enrolment is at an 80% level in the State – and it has pioneered the issuance of an Aadhaar Card along with a Birth Certificate! KMP Expressway work has restarted and Dwarka Expressway should also soon restart. The first CNG DMU train, between Rewari and Rohtak, was flagged off. A Road Safety Fund has been innovatively created, by allowing the Traffic Police to retain 50% of the challan funds for local use. The CM has promised the filling up of 43,000 State govt. jobs as early as possible – in a transparent manner (interview marks have been scaled down). Fortunately, there’s no smell of a scam. Strategically, the CM has pushed for a separate High Court for Haryana, and a separate Bench of HC for South-West Haryana (Gurgaon included). This ‘politically naïve’ CM has offered Rs 5 crores to each MLA (of each Party) as development fund. The equally ‘economically naïve’ CM has also asked for a dedicated coal block in Madhya Pradesh. Either he is a very fast learner, or he is getting some good expert advice. The CM has also taken some tough decisions: bringing the retirement age back to 58 (from 60), stopping all non-sports activities in stadiums, hiking power tariffs, sharply increasing the licence rates for liquor vends and bars, tracking the attendance of schoolteachers online, putting up a biometric attendance system for all govt. employees in Panchkula, asking people to report cases of female foeticide and rewarding them Rs 1 lakh.
Some are not impressed. The former Indian National Lok Dal Speaker, Gopi Chand Gahlot, claims that the government had done nothing significant in the last six months, during which the law and order situation in the State has deteriorated. “There should be zero tolerance towards corruption. There has been no improvement in the approach of the government,” he says. Raman Sharma, an RWA President, says that the Progressive Gurgaon Forum (of which he is a member) is not happy with the government’s intent. “It neither has new projects to show, nor any comprehensive plan to develop the City,” he says. The staff shortage in the government departments is as high as 60%, he adds. Sharma also points out that the City’s drainage system is in a precarious state. “The sewage and drainage systems are in a pathetic condition, not only in Gurgaon but across the State. This is bound to affect the overall health of the people,” he says. Vijay Mangala, from Gurgaon Transport Association, says, “It is unfortunate that a ‘modern’ City like Gurgaon still does not have a proper transport system.” The new norm on the plying of ‘old’ heavy vehicles is adding to the misery of transporters. “Without a proper policy and replacement mechanism, how can the government simply ask operators to stop plying such vehicles?” he asks. Harish Capoor, a civil activist, says, “The new government has to buck up, as I hardly notice any initiatives other than for traffic - which is today’s talk of the town.” Ruchika Sethi, a social activist, believes that there may be ‘many a slip between the cup and the lip’. She believes that the government is doing its job, but the pace at which work is being done may not be enough for results to show in the short run. She says that sanitation is one of the biggest ills of Gurgaon, which needs to be tackled on a war footing. Yojnas are there, many in number. But civic authorities must act quickly, because both population and pollution are increasing by the day,” she says. However, S H Ahuja, General Secretary of the Gurgaon Chamber of Commerce, seems to be very impressed with the enterprise shown by the Chief Minister, that too in a short span of time. “The government has performed quite well in the given circumstances. It is reformulating the industrial policy, which augurs well for new investments in the State - especially for the agricultural sector, which is becoming increasingly technology driven. The new Administration has imparted a distinct transparency in its governance. Its inherent faith in technology is also changing the way that the different State departments are approaching various problems. The government’s decision to put in place the ‘Right to Service Act’ is commendable. The focus on strengthening e-governance and on providing better infrastructure and civic amenities is also laudable,” he says. Defending the government’s performance, G L Sharma, a senior BJP leader, says that the key to its success has been the fixing of responsibilities and the introduction of several plans and programmes for the common good. To dissuade criminal activities the State police is increasing road patrolling with the help of 500 bike officers and a higher number of PCR vans. Citizens will be able to file e-complaints. The government intends to set up a university in Gurgaon and more colleges, both for higher education as well as for vocational courses, which will help students develop the requisite skills for better livelihood options. Sharma adds that transparency in admissions will be boosted by the process of e-registration. Government tenders would also follow the electronic route, he says. There will be digital registration cards for farmers. Mahendergarh would be developed into a big tourism circuit, for which the Centre will invest Rs. 50 crores. A Saraswati (river) heritage development board will be set up, to help revamp and maintain the venerated Saraswati river.
The CM is refreshingly transparent. He had invited scrutiny by being perhaps the first CM to put out a 100-day performance of his govt. (see FG Cover Page of Vol. 4, Issue 25, February 6 to 12). He set up the CM Window early in his tenure, knowing well that he may get more brickbats than bouquets. Maybe he felt that at least he would be able to feel the pulse of the people regularly. Not that he is ensconced in Panchkula - he has already visited many parts of the State….some, multiple times. He has met the Mayors of all the major cities of the State. Going forward, despite being a new BJP State, Haryana has the opportunity of being the Prime BJP State. The CM should faithfully implement the various initiatives introduced by the Centre – like Swachh Abhiyan, Jan Dhan, insurance and pension policies and Beti Padhao. For Gurgaon, the govt. should focus on Skill Gurgaon/Haryana and jobs, apart from of course delivering the basic civic services and facilities (to all residents, including unauthorised colonies) and ensuring that defaulting builders are taken to task. The new Industrial Policy is expected to be announced shortly, with reportedly a bias towards small and medium industry. The Metro link with Faridabad, and even the Metro extension to ‘old’ Gurgaon, have been most welcome announcements. Of course the icing on the cake is the decision by the Centre (prodded by the State) to make Gurgaon the first Smart City of the country. Hopefully that project will be well beyond the planning stage by the time the First Anniversary of this govt. comes around.
Unlike a Kejriwal ‘display’ of ‘aam aadmi’, the CM has quietly reduced his security staff by 183. This low profile, down to earth, honest worker is certainly surprising many pundits. He seems to be slow-marching to the tune of ‘achhe din for aam aadmi ’.
The CM is very active, especially for his age. Maybe it’s an RSS thing. He loves to run. He wishes to introduce Yoga in schools and gyms in parks. A ban on cow slaughter was expected.
BJP won a historic absolute majority in the 2014 Haryana Assembly elections, including all 4 seats from Gurgaon District. Rao Narbir Singh from Badshahpur is in the State Cabinet. The Gurgaon MP is also from the BJP. There are 5 Haryanvis in Modi’s Cabinet at the Centre. Women and youth this time voted in large numbers. Therefore, the expectations of all the people of Haryana from the BJP will remain high.
While BJP has reportedly notched up a 30 lakhs membership in the State (versus a ‘target’ of 50 lakhs), Khattar needs to proactively embrace the Jaats, many of whom this time favoured the BJP (the Congress lost even Rohtak). Jaat reservation (as part of OBCs) is a tricky issue.