By Aishwarya Puri
Edited by Michelle Cherian, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
The Census of India, 2011 brought cheer and jubilation to the denizens of Haryana, as it called it an officially rich state. It has the third highest per capita income in the country (Rs.92,327), preceded only by Delhi and Goa and a GDP of $45.670 billion. Haryana’s sky rocketing GDP holds contributions of agricultural output, business outsourcing and the retail sector, in decreasing order. However, the fact that districts with the maximum agricultural output are the ones with the least civil, infrastructural and educational development could not evade media and political buzz. With State Assembly polls at hand in Haryana, two times Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda seems at the receiving end of allegations for delivering biased development in areas of Southern Haryana and districts of Sirsa, Ambala and Panipat.
Not only leaders from the opposition but also members of the Haryana Congress have raised their apprehensions over Hooda’s model of development which, apparently, bestows holy grace on some areas, especially his hometown Rohtak, and denies other areas of even basic amenities such as water for irrigation, medical facilities, education, jobs and proper roads. The Gurgaon MP of the Congress (2013), Rao Inderjeet Singh, held a boisterous rally in Pataudi against the partial development in Southern Haryana. The Sirsa MLA Gopal Kanda raised his voice against neglected development projects in the constituency of Sirsa. Interestingly, Sirsa is home to the Chautala clan of the Indian National Lokdal. INLD is presently the chief opposition party in the state. Hence, doubt over the Congress’ biased development in Sirsa gains credence and allegations from INLD leaders such as Ajay Singh Chautala, Abhay Singh Chautala and Dushyant Chautala gain momentum. Senior Congress leader and ex-Union Minister Kumari Selja has been in a persistent tiff with CM Hooda for exercising powers single-handedly. She claims that the resentment among the voters of Ambala and Hisar is because of Hooda’s role as a biased Chief Minister.
On various occasions of interaction with the media, CM Hooda clearly rejected allegations of “regional bias”, asserting that no region was particularly favoured or particularly neglected. But if the allegations were to be true, Hooda’s development plans envisaging Rohtak as the Industrial hub of Haryana and Sonipat as the “Future City” and education hub of Haryana, tell tales of enormous wealth and capital being spent exclusively on these projects. These schemes speak of a golden vision, but can be fully claimed to be so, if other parts of the state are equally nurtured. Districts of Jind, Hisar, Mewat, Sirsa, Mahendragarh, etc. are educationally backward regions and for the past 8-9 years, no effective efforts have been put into improving the scenario. Not just the infrastructure, even government job allotments have fallen under the category of “regional bias”. Five times MLA from Panipat city, Balbir Pal Shah resigned from Haryana assembly in 2013, displeased over the apparent phenomenon of biased employment and development. He was joined by Rajya Sabha MP Ishwar Singh who, too, condemned Hooda led Congress government, for discrimination in job offerings and development projects.
Evidently, no development plans have as such happened in the “neglected areas” which could add value to their native potentials and lend credibility to Hooda’s affirmations; Sirsa is the second largest producer of Cotton in India and holds the largest Mandi of Wheat in the nation, Hisar is home to Jindal Steel Industry, Rewari stands high in mustard productivity and Ambala is a world exporter of excellent quality textile. In spite of having their own crowning glories, these cities are adversely hit by tattered roads, poor educational infrastructure, feeble mechanism for offering jobs, dearth of medical facilities and an overall lack of civil development. Concept of “regional bias” and “lopsided development” might not have an existence in political science textbooks or any official government documents but its sheer resonance and perpetual outcomes can make a bold impression in the game of politics. Therefore, in this sensitive period of approaching elections, it becomes imperative for Hooda to validate his position as a non-biased Chief Minister, to bring the ball back in his court and hit a hat-trick in office.
Aishwarya is a student of English Literature at Hindu College, Delhi University. An aggressive enthusiast of Politics and an avid reader of articles on public policy and national politics. A leader, orator, anti patriarchal and loud on expression of words and public speaking. She believes in her dynamic administrative qualities and swears by candid human resource management. Her analysis of any life experience is majorly scientific and pragmatic, yet never misses a touch of spiritualism and philosophy.