As Bharatiya Janata Party Government in Haryana completed its one year, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar went on an advertising blitzkrieg. So great was the enthusiasm on the part of Haryana Government that according to an RTI reply they ended up spending a whopping 17 crore on the publicity campaign alone.
The advertising spree may not have got the Khattar Government the desired results as they have grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Chief Minister Khattar himself has made comments that not only received flak from his opponents but also rattled his own party leadership. His comments that Muslims can continue to live in this country, but they will have to give up eating beef attracted the wrath of his own party higher ups.
This statement was not a one off incident Khattar has made numerous such statements. When asked about the freedom of choice for girls, Khattar had said, “If you want freedom, why don't they just roam around naked?
He even endorsed Khaps or sects’ assembly and said that they act as custodian of our social customs.
If his eccentricities weren’t enough, his own Ministers have been his nemesis. Health minister Anil Vij, was recently in news for his infamous spat with an IPS officer. Vij had also publicly expressed displeasure against the Chief Minister for interfering in his Ministry.
Towing RSS Agenda
Khattar in his one year tenure has tried hard to push the policies of RSS. His government brought in the Cow Protection Bill which provides for a fine of Rs 30,000 to Rs 1 lakh and imprisonment of up to 10 years for anyone found slaughtering cows or selling beef. The Bill seeks to conserve and develop indigenous breeds of cows.
The Haryana Government also gave a go ahead to Dinanath Batra, convenor of the RSS-backed Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti to bring about changes in the textbooks and education system in the State.
The textbook written by Batra has a verse like: “I have a dream, of building a school on the foundations of Hindutva and patriotism.” His books are already a compulsory reading in BJP-run Gujarat and the text books exhort the children not to blow candles for birthdays as it is against Indian culture.
The Chief Minister has also sanctioned Rs 50 crore to locate the mythical Saraswari river. Khattar has issued directions that the excavation work of the river from its origin should be completed at the earliest. "A three-day Saraswati Mahotsav or carnival would be observed on the occasion of Basant Panchmi in three districts, namely, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra and Kaithal, in which information regarding the Saraswati would be given to people and literature would be distributed. Also some scholars would inform people about their findings vis-à-vis the Saraswati," said Khattar.
Khattar not only appointed Baba Ramdev as the brand ambassador of the State but also accorded him the rank, equal to that of a Cabinet Minister. The Haryana Government said this has been done to promote yoga and Ayurveda in the State.
Initiatives by Khattar Government
One thing that Khattar has managed to achieve in his one year tenure is to keep a clean image. The Chief Minister has emphasised on Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme to promote girl child and counter rampant female foeticide. He has set up women police stations in each district and introduced e- Governance and transparency in recruitment process.
Khattar has been pushing e-Governance for smooth delivery of services and entitlements, besides redressal of grievances. The State Government has already notified 163 services which would be delivered to the citizens at their doorsteps and according to the Chief Minister his Government is committed to providing internet services in all the 6,500 villages.
Haryana is also the first State in the country which has implemented Aadhaar based attendance system for Government functionaries. It is also the first State in the country to implement Aadhaar-linked registration of birth. The Government has also taken steps like e-tracking of official files which is aimed to improve official working.
A mobile application has also been launched through which a person can get to know the status of his or her complaint on their mobiles, using the app.
The other major step that the BJP Government in Haryana has taken is to reduce the share of interview marks in the process of recruitment by Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC). The Government says this has been done to bring in more transparency in the recruitment process.
Yet, pushing the RSS agenda and making communal remarks has been the highlight of the first year of Khattar Government. So much so that through the last summer there have been riots in Atali village near Ballabhgarh and in October two Dalit kids were burnt alive in Faridabad. Thus, the saffron agenda of the Government has overshadowed other achievements of the first ever BJP Government in Haryana.