It’s a Friday evening.
Three passengers stand next to a bus stop outside Hansi along the under-expansion National Highway 10, awaiting the bus to Hisar. Karambir, Somdev and Amit Kumar are in their thirties and have the responsibility of running their household. The commonalities do not end at that.
While welcoming the moves of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana to inculcate values from Bhagwad Gita in schools, teach yoga, ban cow slaughter and carry forward saffronisation, the trio is hardly impressed.
“Corruption has intensified and made our lives miserable but nobody seems bothered,” says Karambir. Sitting alongside, Amit is quick to slip in a question, “Cost of fertilisers has shot up and availability has reduced, resulting in delays. Recruitment by the state government has been frozen and private sector is not hiring. So where do youngsters go?” Somdev, on being asked, said, “We are Hindus and while it is important that we know our values but we did not vote in BJP with such majority for these issues.”
Haryana, which in its 49 years of existence never went with the BJP, voted on October 15, last year, based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-corruption and pro-development stance. In terms of the actual blueprint, a 17 page manifesto released by the state unit was the guiding light. A glance at the document revealed that barring prevention of cow slaughter, nothing of what the government has chosen to announce found any mention in the manifesto.
In addition, the extent of unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm witnessed across Haryana on and since March 16 has exacerbated the mood among impatient masses.
Travelling in the Bhiwani district, it is difficult to miss the acreage of destroyed wheat, mustard and vegetable produce. Brothers Maharam and Dharampal, who share a 16.5 acre mustard farm are aghast. “90 per cent of our farm produce is gone. And while our government is undecided on our demand for Rs 25,000 per acre as compensation, let me tell you our investment, to prepare our field for harvest is above Rs 32,000 per acre. It’s a loss-loss situation,” added Maharam. Next door, Raj Kumar, who takes pride in being an organic farmer, says he has no option left in front of him. “The only income I now have is from my dairy but how much and where all will that help me? From my farm produce, I used to feed my family, my animals and make a living,” he says. His father Kamal Singh, yells, holding the rotting wheat crop in his hands, “The way these crops have been damaged, I cant even feed them to my animals.” The worry before the family is how to meet expenses incurred in buying medicines for ailing parents, educating their children and ensure a living.
In Chandigarh, even a preliminary assessment of the damage across the state is awaited. Nevertheless, Chief Minister has sought Rs 500 crore from the centre to provide compensation to the farmers. March 31 is the deadline for the exercise after which relief will be announced and then provided.
WHAT THE RIGHT SEES
Away from this, in Rohtak, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Dr Surendra Jain, spokesperson and secretary is a satisfied man, especially about the direction of the government, be it at the centre or in the state.
When asked about the anomalies in executing things not mentioned and not executing things mentioned, he said, “What is wrong if in addition to the manifesto other things are being done! Has the government stopped widening the roads?” He went on to defend the ban on beef, teaching of yoga in schools among other things. “If nobody dares demand pork in countries like Saudi Arabia then why should beef in India be so dear to people?” he asked. In the neighbouring Hisar, Sandeep Bansal, district chief of Bajrang Dal voiced his ‘plans’ to counter the Christian propaganda as he ‘thanked’ the Khattar government for its ‘right’ moves. “Intelligence Bureau is inquiring into this also. We are drawing up a list of those who convert but still want benefits of SC/ST. We will get their reservation benefits cancelled. They used ladies also to sweet-talk poor Hindus. We have worked for this government, there is no doubt,” he said. His counterpart, Dr Ram Kumar Sharma, vice president of the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha spoke about enlarging the scope of the ‘Bahu Lao Beti Bachao Abhiyan’ (marry girls from other religions into Hindu homes) where they have had ‘two cases’ till now in Haryana.
‘IMAGE ISSUE TOO’
While the disconnect between the direction of the government and the sentiments on the ground is more than apparent, some also believe it has to do with the ‘image’ problem that Khattar suffers from. Senior journalist from Rohtak, Dr Satish Tyagi mentioned, “People of Haryana are used to ‘Lal politics’ where a larger than life CM gets things done for them, by hook or by crook. Khattar, though a ‘Lal’, does not fit into that mould. Locals also feel he is someone imposed by Modi. Plus the way many of his ministers are putting him in discomfort, it is evident that he has not been able to control them.” While ruling out the impact of right wing organizations, he added, that on the whole, people’s disappointment with this government stemmed from issues of governance and not saffronisation.
Kaimri, the village which got the PM’s attention
A tiny village in the Hisar tehsil, Kaimri shot into national limelight when on March 6, an under-construction church, on the outskirts of the village, was vandalized. When reported, it made the Prime Minister tweet his deep concern. A fortnight later, the village has faded away into familiar stupor. Normalcy prevails except when you sight the police van parked outside the incomplete structure and dozens of policemen relaxing under its roof.
Satyanarayan Saran, village headman said nobody in the village knew about the plan till some Bajrang Dal members told him a year ago. “Since there were no Christians we asked the priest why did he want to make a church and he kept denying that he was building one. Finally, in February our gram sabha wrote to the police expressing opposition to the church but nobody bothered,” he said. “Though villagers did not vandalise the structure that it happened here is a matter of shame,” he said. While Saran was quick to dismiss the so-called ‘hold’ of Bajrang Dal members saying they are barely 3-4 in numbers.
For Bajrang Dal’s Bansal, this incident represents a totally different opportunity. “If more Kaimri like incidents happen, then no village in Haryana will have a church standing,” he added.
Meanwhile a few metres from the ‘church’, most villagers expressed disappointment over the government’s functioning. The refrain was identical.
Bhajan Lal, a resident of Kaimri had one request while being interviewed. “Tell my CM that I do not care about this right wing agenda. I voted for change. When are you bringing it?”
KHATTAR GOVT’S ‘RIGHT MOVES’
- Making Bhagwad Gita compulsory learning in government schools
- Appointing Dina Nath Batra as the head of review committee to look into education
- Making yoga compulsory in schools
- Appointing Baba Ramdev as state’s ambassador
- Banning of cow slaughter
- Announcing the ‘saffronisation of education’ by education minister Ram Bilas Sharma
RELIEF IN SIGHT
- All depends on the assessment which will be completed by March 31
- Electricity bills could be waived depending on the extent of damage
- Crop loans may be converted into medium term loans and next crop loan at zero per cent interest
- Mewat, Rewari and Palwal have suffered extensive, upto 100 per cent damage in some cases
- Mahendragarh, Gurgaon and Jhajjar have bit hit
- Least damage from Panchula, Ambala and Kaithal