Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Chief Minister of Haryana, is passing through a difficult phase. In the recent Lok Sabha by-elections in Hisar, the ruling party’s candidate not only stood at the third position, but also lost his deposit. Workers’ protest and lockouts in Maruti plant in the state have only added to his woes. In an exclusive interview with Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi on her chat show Kahiye Janab, the CM discussed these issues and much more.
Here are the excerpts:
Swati: It is being said that Maruti is going to Gujarat. What is the reality?
Hooda: Maruti is not going to Gujarat. On the other hand, they are planning more investments here. Maruti has four plants in Haryana. Three are operational; the fourth one is being set up.
Swati: Haryana and Maruti are synonyms. It is said that they are one.
Hooda: This is precisely what I am saying. In the last 6-7 years, Maruti has invested more than Rs 12,000 crore here. They are increasing their investment in the state.
Swati: If they are increasing investment here, then is all this just a conspiracy? There is so much labour unrest that the factory is being shut down and production of automobiles has come to a halt.
Hooda: Production has not come to a halt. There is no labour unrest. There has been some communication gap between the management and the labour union which has been settled. This happens everywhere. In Haryana the minimum wages are the highest in India.
Swati: But then why has the perception changed so much?
Hooda: Like I said, there are times when there is a problem of communication gap. Negotiations take time. Inspite of everything, production at the Maruti plant continued, though there may have been a slowdown. From 1966 to 2005 the total investment in Haryana was Rs 41,000 crore. From 2005 to 2011, an investment of Rs 53,000 crore has come in. And investments worth Rs 1 lakh crore are in the pipeline. Out of the total investments by Japanese firms in India, 70 percent have been made in Haryana. There is no migration from the state. These rumours are just to mislead everyone. In 2005, in per capita investment, Haryana was on the 14th place in the country. Today it is at the number one position. This has been said in an ASSOCHAM report. A CII- McKinsey study said that Haryana’s economy has grown by 17.5 percent during the last five years. And a CMIE report said that Haryana achieved the top position in per capita investment in the country.
Swati: Formula One brought so much name to Noida. Mayawati gave away the cup to the winners. Don’t you think if F1 had had taken place in Gurgoan, then it would have brought prestige to the state?
Hooda: Things that are in Haryana are not in Uttar Pradesh. F1 had come to us too. We asked them to give entertainment tax to the state. Yes, it is a prestigious event. But then UP is also a part of India.
Swati: Anna Hazare has said that he will campaign against Congress everywhere. His team started their campaign from Hisar Lok Sabha by-elections. Do you think you were targeted unnecessarily there?
Hooda: We are living in a democracy. Everyone has a right to say what they want. They can oppose whoever they want. But if the issue is of corruption, then first we have to finish the corrupt. If we talk of Hisar, who has won? Who were fighting against the Congress? Those against whom charges have been framed. Yes, the issue of corruption should be taken up. The Congress party is fighting against corruption.
Swati: But were you worried during the Hisar by-polls? The pro-Congress feeling suddenly vanished.
Hooda: In the last elections too, when there was a pro-Congress wave, when we had won 9 out of 10 Lok Sabha seats, we had lost Hisar. Local issues can be a reason for our loss in these elections. There was also a sympathy wave for Bhajan Lal who had been the chief minister of the state for so many years. In the last elections too we were at the third position. It is nothing new.
Swati: The people of this country are fed up with corruption and price rise. Anna Hazare, who says he is a Gandhian, is leading the movement against corruption. As a politician, what is your assessment of Anna?
Hooda: If someone says something good, then everyone will listen to him. But the point is what the motive is? If corruption is the issue, then Congress too is fighting against corruption. Can we say that leaders of other parties are completely clean? We have to remove corruption from the roots.
Swati: Do you think regarding our delivery mechanism, whether in UP, Bihar or Madhya Pradesh, people are becoming more and more vocal as far as their rights are concerned? For example, petrol prices were hiked recently which led to so much anger amongst the people. Do you think expectations have increased from politicians?
Hooda: This is a democracy. People voice their opinion on everything. Governments are made by the people and for the people. Our forefathers took part in the freedom struggle so that everyone could have the freedom to speak on whatever they want. As far as prices go, at times the prices at the international level affect our markets too. This situation impacts all the countries.
Swati: Hasn’t Congress’ image taken a beating? Aren’t you worried as a Congressman?
Hooda: Government’s image has not taken a beating. We are the ones who put people in jail. Congress party has sacrificed its ministers too. Only the Congress party is good for this country.
Swati: Congress says that it is for the aam adami. But the price rise is so much.
Hooda: Congress has always been with the common man. It has always thought of the farmers. PDS prices have not increased. The party’s policy has always been pro-poor.
Swati: Mamata Banerjee has warned that she may quit the UPA in future.
Hooda: This is a hypothetical question and I cannot answer it. And is there no price rise in non-Congress states? Haryana has a 9 percent VAT. Gujarat has a 27 percent VAT. We all have to come together on this issue. Leadership, policy and intention of the Congress are fine.
Swati: Assembly Elections are due in five states next year. Who do you see as the biggest Congress leader?
Hooda: Sonia Gandhi is the leader of the Congress party. Rahul Gandhi is the youth leader. And then there is Dr Manmohan Singh. Congress will do well in the upcoming elections. It’s the people who will decide.
Adaptation: Manisha Singh