Interview| BJP has people’s trust, will score 10/10 again: Haryana CM Nayab Saini - Hindustan Times
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Interview| BJP has people’s trust, will score 10/10 again: Haryana CM Nayab Saini

Apr 23, 2024 12:38 PM IST

Saini, who was picked by the BJP to substitute Manohar Lal Khattar on March 12 to tide over nine years of anti-incumbency before the Lok Sabha and assembly elections, spoke to HT on a range of issues from Brand Modi to party candidates facing farmer protests.

It’s been a month since Nayab Singh Saini was sworn in as Haryana chief minister, replacing his mentor, Manohar Lal Khattar during a dramatic turn of events which entailed BJP severing its ties with its 2019 post assembly poll ally, Jannayak Janta Party (JJP).

Haryana chief minister Nayab Singh Saini says the BJP will buck the anti-incumbency factor and reap electoral dividends of a double-engine government in both Haryana and at the Centre. (Keshav Singh/HT)
Haryana chief minister Nayab Singh Saini says the BJP will buck the anti-incumbency factor and reap electoral dividends of a double-engine government in both Haryana and at the Centre. (Keshav Singh/HT)

Saini, a junior-most minister in the 2014 Manohar Lal Khattar government and a Lok Sabha MP now, was on March 12 picked by the BJP to substitute the latter in a bid to tide over nine years of anti-incumbency before the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and assembly polls later this year. The greenhorn chief minister who is also the state BJP president faces a daunting dual challenge: Repeating party’s 2019 feat of a clean sweep on all 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, and also winning his own assembly byelection from Karnal. He spoke to Hindustan Times on Monday on a range of issues. Edited excerpts:

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What’s your assessment of the electoral situation emerging in Haryana’s 10 constituencies? What are the issues on which BJP is seeking votes – Brand Modi or state government’s achievements.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the one who has brought systemic improvement across the nation. He is a brand and is talked about in the remotest corner of the country. People feel that the BJP government in Haryana is the one which cares about them. The fair and transparent recruitments done during the BJP rule in Haryana is unprecedented. This is a talking point amongst the people of the state --- that one can get a government job ‘Bina Parchi, Bina Kharchi’ (without favour and money). I would like to mention some of the people-oriented schemes -Comprehensive Health insurance of Antyodya Units (Chirayu), round- the-clock power supply, steps taken for women empowerment like promoting women self-help groups by providing them training and opportunities to earn, ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ which attest our success story.

Since BJP has been in power in the Centre and in Haryana for almost 10 years, would it not mean a double anti-incumbency for the party in these elections?

BJP’s tally in Lok Sabha increased from 282 in 2014 to 303 in 2019 elections. This meant an increase in the level of people’s trust in the Prime Minister. After 10 years of rule, the numbers for the BJP in the 2024 elections are poised to further increase.

The so-called anti-incumbency was also flagged in poll surveys during the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh assembly polls in 2023. However, the BJP proved these surveys wrong by winning the three states. This reiterated the fact that people are solidly behind the Prime Minister. And there are reasons: PM Modi’s impeccable delivery of benefits to the people, innovative measures taken by his government in public interest and his onslaught on corruption.

The BJP was first to declare its candidates in Haryana. Six of the 10 are former Congressmen including one facing CBI probe. How does this impact your worker’s morale?

This is not entirely correct. These are just rumours being spread by Congress leaders. Our Gurugram candidate Rao Inderjit Singh, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh candidate, Dharambir Singh are contesting their third Lok Sabha elections as BJP candidates. Both are two-time BJP MPs. How long would you keep on saying that they are outsiders with Congress background. They are dedicated leaders of the BJP working to further Modi’s policies and vision. Our Hisar candidate Ranjit Singh Chautala had earlier joined the BJP but quit due to certain reasons. Ranjit as an Independent legislator has been supporting our government.

What about Naveen Jindal, who is a former Congressman and facing a CBI probe?

We are very clear on this. No one in the BJP, including the Prime Minister, or the former chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, will make a compromise on the issue of corruption. Law will take its own course.

Your village and constituency are in Ambala district. Being pitchforked into Karnal seems to have a political disadvantage for you. How much are you banking on ML Khattar for the byelection?

I have worked with Manohar ji for a long time and learnt a lot. I have his unflinching support. It is the decision of the party from where one contests elections.

An internal party survey has pointed out that BJP may face challenge in Hisar, Rohtak, Sirsa, Karnal and Sonepat seats. How are you tackling this?

There is no challenge on a single Lok Sabha seat in Haryana. You can get it checked. We will win 10 out of 10. In fact, our victory margin is set to increase this time. The Opposition is so jittery that a leader of one political party even gave a call to the entire Opposition to join hands to defeat the BJP.

BJP candidates have faced protests during campaigning? How much will this affect their prospects?

Both the central and state governments have done a lot to improve the farm sector and conditions of the farmers. In fact, unprecedented reforms have been undertaken by the BJP governments in the farm sector after the Independence. The protesting farmers have some demands and the central government had entered into a dialogue with them. It is the government’s responsibility to look into their demands and fulfil them in a reasonable manner. Things need to be done step by step. Haryana is purchasing 14 crops on minimum support price (MSP). The agitating farmers also need to look and evaluate as to what has been done for them in the neighbouring Punjab and Rajasthan.

You recently spoke about extortion calls being made by gangsters? Why the police have not been able to contain the gangs?

It was brought to my knowledge that threat calls were being made by goons. We will deal with the matter in a very firm manner. No perpetrator will be spared.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    A journalist of over 35 years standing, Ramesh Vinayak is Executive Editor of Hindustan Times at Chandigarh He specialises in covering the north Indian territory of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, besides the Punjabi diaspora.

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Hitender Rao is Senior Associate Editor covering the state of Haryana. A journalist with over two decades of experience, he writes on politics, economy, migration and legal affairs with a focus on investigative journalism.

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