Chandigarh: They (G-23) were not rebels, but asked for reforms. They will talk about bringing more reforms, if required, to strengthen the Congress. The eight-year stint of the BJP in Haryana is almost non-performing. Not even a single inch of metro or rail network has been laid in the state, said two-time Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Thursday.
In fact, with the estimated total debt of over Rs 4 lakh crore, the present BJP-JJP government is pushing the state towards bankruptcy.
In an interview at his official residence here, Hooda candidly told IANS there was no individual agenda of any of the party leaders, to whom the media named G23. They were seeking organisational reforms in the party.
“Now there is an organisational reform (with the election of the party president democratically). The G23 camp no longer exists and all leaders are united against the BJP-led Central government. If needed to bring more reforms to strengthen the Congress, in future, they will speak, ” a seasoned politician Hooda, 75, told IANS, adding “they (G23) are reformists and not party rebels”.
Senior leaders like Hooda, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari and Shashi Tharoor were among 23 leaders, popularly called G23, who had sought drastic organisational overhaul.
Talking about the state politics, he said the eight years of helm of the BJP government — first five years alone and three of five years of the second stint with the JJP (Jannayak Janta Party) — were non-performing.
“Not even a single inch of metro or rail line or mega infrastructure project has been commissioned in the past eight years. Not even a single medical college or university was set up in all these years. The government made an announcement in 2016 to set up the Sports University (in Sonepat). After so many years, the government appointed its first vice-chancellor just two days back.”
Blaming the BJP-JJP government for pushing the state into debt trap and taking it towards bankruptcy, Hooda said the current debt is more than Rs 4 lakh crore.
“It has Rs 3, 25, 000 crore loans and Rs 1, 22, 000 crore liabilities. The situation has become such that the government has to take loan even to pay salaries of the employees. At many a time, there is a delay in releasing the salary of the employees.”
The Congress leader demanded a white paper, explaining why the government has to take so much debt and where this money was spent.
Hooda said the outstanding debt of Haryana at the end of 2013-14, his second consecutive stint, was Rs 60, 300 crore at 15.05 per cent of GSDP, which has now increased to 28 per cent.
He blamed the wrong economic policies of the government for pushing the state into bankruptcy.
A day earlier, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar informed the assembly that Hooda, citing the 2021-22 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, said the state has a debt of over Rs 4, 15, 000 crore, while in reality the amount of debt has been shown at Rs 2, 39, 000 crore by the CAG.
A debt of Rs 2, 27, 697 crore is recorded in the account books of the state government.
“If the difference of this amount is also taken out, then only a difference of Rs 12, 000 crore is visible; but the state does not have a debt of Rs 4, 15, 000 crore in any respect, ” said the Chief Minister.
Talking about the state approved price (SAP) of sugarcane, Hooda said till 2005 the rate of sugarcane in the state was Rs 117 per quintal.
During the Congress tenure from 2005-2014, it was increased to Rs 310, a hike of Rs 193 that was 165 per cent, to benefit the farmers.
He said during the helm of the BJP government there was only 17 per cent hike in its procurement rate.
“We want the sugarcane procurement rate should be equal to Punjab, ” he added.
Punjab in October hiked the price of sugarcane to Rs 380 per quintal from Rs 360 per quintal.
After Rs 20 hike by Punjab, Haryana farmer unions have been demanding the government to increase the SAP to Rs 400 from Rs 362.
Former Chief Minister Hooda said farmers in the entire state are facing the shortage of DAP fertilizer.
On the issue of unemployment, Hooda said due to the faulty policies of the government Haryana is at the top of the country with an unemployment rate of 31.8 per cent.
“The unemployment figures released every month tell the same story every time as the present BJP-JJP government has proved to be a complete failure in providing employment to the youth, ” he said.
Accusing the Khattar government of being insensitive to the agitation of medical students against its bond policy, Hooda said instead of accepting the legitimate demand of the students, the government was threatening students of expulsion from the hostel and registration of FIRs (first information report) against them.
The demands of the students include a reduction in the duration of the compulsory government service from seven years to one and the bond default amount not to exceed Rs 5 lakh.
The 54-day-long agitation ended on December 24 after the issuance of a revised notification regarding the bond policy by the government.
In the November 2019 assembly polls, the BJP won 40 seats, and was six short of a majority in the 90-member Haryana Assembly.
Besides the JJP, seven independent MLAs have also extended support to the BJP, helping it reach a tally of 57 seats.
The Congress won 31 seats, improving its tally from 19 in 2014.