Chandigarh: The Haryana Cabinet on Friday stripped off former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of cabinet rank, bringing him on par with other MLAs of the state.
Announcing the government's decision at a press conference here, Haryana Minister of State Krishan Kumar Bedi said, "He (Hooda) has been given Kothi Number 70 in Sector 7 of Chandigarh with staff assigned to a cabinet minister, vehicles and security. The budget was too high. Thus, taking into consideration the public demand, the cabinet has decided to withdraw it."
"The decision will come into force today itself. He is only an MLA now, and whatever facilities an MLA avails will be provided to Hooda ji," he added.
Saying that the scheme was formulated and implemented by the Hooda government of the Congress party, Bedi added under the scheme former chief ministers of the state had been given the cabinet rank that entitled them of accommodation, vehicle, security and staff.
"When the scheme came into being there were just two former CMs- Late Chaudhry Hukam Singh and Om Prakash Chautala. Chautala ji was sentenced for 10 years in connection with the JBT Recruitment Scam. He is not taking the benefit of the scheme, whereas the facilities were withdrawn from Hukam Singh's kin after his death. Only one former chief minister, Bhupendra Singh Hooda, is left," he said.
"In the meantime, pressure was mounting on our government from several quarters to withdraw the scheme. After contemplation, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar too arrived at the conclusion that leaders who have dedicated themselves to the service of people should not avail such facilities. And thus, the Haryana cabinet under chairmanship of Chief Minister Khattar decided to repeal the scheme.
When asked the Khattar government was practising animosity, he said, "There is no animosity in it. It was a matter of public interest. People had complaints; they were dissatisfied; and taking into consideration their feelings, the cabinet decided to repeal the scheme."
Responding to a question that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is also enjoying the cabinet rank, Bedi said: "It is a matter of Parliament and the Centre. Haryana is a small state which did not have such provisions earlier neither do any neighbouring states has such a provision."