By Ganesh Bhatt
What’s the central government’s plan for the 100 most backward districts of the country? How true are rumours of differences between Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal. How effective will Rahul Gandhi’s tractor rallies be in Haryana? Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh spoke candidly on all these subjects and more in a special interview with the IANS. Edited excerpts:
Q: Congress President Rahul Gandhi is travelling to Haryana with the issue of farm bills. Many farmers organisations are also opposing them. In the light of all this, how do you view the government’s bill as being pro-farmer?
A: This is the first time since the nation’s independence, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the government is re reaching to the farmers with assistance under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi plan. After country became free, the funds should have been disbursed much earlier. So far, the central government has distributed Rs 92,000 crore through this fund to more than 10.5 crore farmers in the country. During the Congress’s tractor rally, the party must explain to people why it hasn’t been able to disburse funds so far. The anti-farmer Congress had even refused to implement the Swaminathan Commission report in 2007. The Modi government has not just accepted the Swaminathan Commission, today farmers are getting the correct price for their produce. Compared to the Congress regime, the price of wheat that was Rs. 1400 in 2013-14 is Rs 1975 today. Mustard was Rs 3050 in 2013-14 and is Rs 4650 today. Paddy was Rs. 1310 earlier and is Rs. 1868 now. In the budget, where there was an increase of 8.5 per cent allocation for farmers during the Congress regime, the Modi government has already increased it by 38 per cent. The Congress had in the 2019 election manifesto talked about ending the MSP, but now it is opposing it. The new farm bills resolve to double the income of farmers. This legislation will help promote the concept of one nation one market.
Q: You are the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Statistics, Programme Implementation & Planning. What are the schemes being implemented to benefit the people in your departments?
A: The nation’s Niti Aayog is working to formulate various development plans in the country. In the Niti Aayog, chief ministers of all the states are working to suggest plans for the people of the country. Through the Aayog, we have chosen to work with 100 districts in the country that were perceived as most backward. The Ministry of Statistics collates and puts out data on the nation’s development parameters. Today, I can say with pride that the farmers’ budget, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has risen to 38 per cent from 8.5 per cent.
Q: Your disagreements with of Haryana CM Manohar Lal, keep making headlines. What is the truth about these?
A: I have no dispute with CM Manohar Lal. All this is gossip in the media. I keep discussing plans to develop my constituency with him on public forums. I will continue to raise the issues of public interest and continue to give suggestions to the government. The duty of a real public representative is to raise the voice of the people.
Q: Has the proposal for an AIIMS in Manethi been put in cold freeze? Will there ever be an AIIMS at Manethi?
A: After the BJP came to power at the Centre I was the first leader who demanded that Haryana be given an AIIMS. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal had accepted the demand and announced it at a rally. The AIIMS branch at Badsa was propagated by some people as a full-fledged AIIMS. I have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former finance minister, Arun Jaitley and BJP president JP Nadda and explained the reality to them. I told them that Haryana is yet to get an AIIMS unlike other states. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal also made efforts for this. He also kept in touch with the central leadership on this. The Union budget has made an allocation for the Manethi AIIMS. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also gave it his stamp of approval during a rally in Kurukshetra. There were some technical difficulties related to the land for the AIIMS that are being removed. A team from the Central Health Department has visited the area and given its green signal. I am confident that the PM will soon lay the foundation stone for the AIIMS.
Q: You keep raising the issue of development of Southern Haryana. What is the level of development in the region and in your constituency?
A: I had raised the issue of giving jobs to the youth of the country on the basis of their skills and abilities. I was opposing job arrangements made during the Congress regime. The deserving youth of the state were being treated with disdain. In the BJP government, the youth are getting jobs as per merit. Even the youth of South Haryana have benefited from this. I have demanded an equitable share of canal water. Water is coming up in the canals of South Haryana. The canal schemes for the dry areas such as Nangal Chaudhary, Mahendragarh are coming up. A demand was made to fill the Masani Barrage with canal water, and today you can go and see that water is reaching there. Work is also going on in the Hamidpur dam. In Gurugram, the government has successfully implemented to plan to get the GMDA.
Q: You had started programmes outside Ahirwal. Why did you stop the programmes now?
A: The entire world has been fighting Covid-19 since March. In this period, implementing programmes in one’s Lok Sabha constituency leave aside places outside Haryana has been tough. People from the entire state love me and I keep going to meet them. After Covid-19 is under control, I will once again go in their middle and find about their well-being.
(Ganesh Bhatt can be reached at [email protected])