By Anand Singh
New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) Eyeing a comeback in the Haryana Assembly polls, the Congress is all geared up to highlight the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government’s “betrayal” of the people, as unemployment rate is at an all time high in the state at 28 per cent.
The 90 Assembly seats in Haryana will go to the polls on October 21, while the results will be declared on October 24.
The Congress, which will soon announce its list of candidates, has also asked its leaders to mention about them being “teetotallers” and “using khaadi” in their membership forms for getting tickets to contest the Assembly polls.
In a candid interview with IANS, former Union Minister and Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja said, “Every election brings challenges and this one is no different. The BJP government in the state made over 154 promises in its manifesto in 2014 but it has not been able to fulfil any of them.”
“They bring in extraneous issues and do not even look at how the people of Haryana are suffering,” she added.
Accusing the state government of using diversionary tactics, Selja said, “They just want to white wash the real issues and raise different kind of matters, hoping that people will believe them and give BJP the mandate.
“But I am 100 per cent sure that people have seen through this veil of lies unleashed by the BJP and they will teach the ruling party a lesson in the Assembly polls.”
The Congress, which was in power in Haryana from 2004 to 2014, lost to the BJP in the last Assembly polls held in 2014, when the saffron party won 47 seats while the Congress managed only 15.
Describing unemployment as the biggest issue in the state, Selja said, “I am very sorry to say that under the Khattar-led government, Haryana achieved the dubious distinction of having an unemployment rate of 28 per cent, the highest in the country.”
Selja, who was appointed Haryana Congress chief on September 4 by interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, also slammed the BJP government for indulging in vendetta politics, saying the saffron party is afraid of Congress leaders as they are the voice of the common people.
“You can see how selective they are,” she said, referring to former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and senior party leader and MLA Kuldeep Singh Bishnoi being on the radar of investigating agencies.
“They are targeting our leaders because they fear the Congress,” she said, adding, “Congress has stood by the common people and now the BJP is targeting our leaders.”
Slamming the BJP for misusing agencies like the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Selja said, “They may misuse the agencies, but I am sure that ultimately the law of the land will prevail, not just through the judiciary, but also during the elections.”
The Congress leader said that the people will see through the vendetta politics of the BJP during the elections and realise that it is not delivering on its promises, rather it is simply targeting political people to take away the attention from the real issues.
To a question on aspiring candidates mentioning being “teetotallers” and “using khaadi” in ther forms, Selja said, “This has been there in the party’s membership form since earlier days. We are all disciple of (Mahatma) Gandhiji,” she said.
When asked by when the party will release its candidates’ list for the upcoming Assembly polls, Selja said, “It will be released shortly. The schedule is out and the time is short, so we will release the list as soon as possible.”
Stressing that Congress has always delivered on its poll promises, Selja said, “For this year’s Assembly polls, the manifesto committee is going to have its first meeting today.”
She also said that the party has asked for suggestions from the people. “Everyone is free to give their suggestions and we will try to incoperate what is workable in the interest of the people of Haryana.
“We deliver what we promise, that is the record of the Congress party,” she said.
On the campaign plans of Sonia Gandhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, Selja said the party is finalising their schedule.
When pointed out that there was infighting in the state unit of the Congress, she said, “All these are part of politics. But it doesn’t take anything away from the ultimate aim, which is to topple the corrupt BJP government.
“Everyone is working on the ground under the Congress flag. Some people may have different views, but that is part of politics.”
When told about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah highlighting the abrogation of Article 370 and the passing of the Triple Talaq Bill in the Parliament during their poll campaign in the state, Selja said the issues have no relevance in Haryana.
“We have seen how Chief Minister Khattar reacted to the revocation of Article 370, saying ‘we will now bring girls from Kashmir to marry our boys’. This is their mindset.
“Look at his narrow vision. He believes that boys from Haryana will now be able to go Kashmir and get Kashmiri girls for marriage, as if they are properties or commodities. This is what they are trying to teach the people of Haryana,” she said.
“Khattar has a lot to answer to the people of the state,” she added.
Khattar stirred a controversy last month when a video of his speech went viral on social media in which he was heard saying, “Some people are now saying as Kashmir is open, brides will be brought from there.”
Khattar was expressing concern over the low sex ratio in Haryana at an event in Fatehabad when he made the remark in an apparent reference to the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])