Interview | Haryana 2019

There is simmering dissent against Khattar government, says Randeep Singh Surjewala

Randeep Surjewala, Congress candidate from Kaithal Assembly constituency, during an election campaign in Sangatpura village in Kaithal, Haryana on October 9, 2019.

Randeep Surjewala, Congress candidate from Kaithal Assembly constituency, during an election campaign in Sangatpura village in Kaithal, Haryana on October 9, 2019.   | Photo Credit: SandeepSaxena

Party to highlight “maladministration, corruption, unemployment and annihilation of trade and business”

Randeep Singh Surjewala, the most visible face in the Congress to articulate its position on various issues, is seeking a fifth term as lawmaker from the Kaithal Assembly constituency. Edited excerpts of his interview with The Hindu on the party’s prospects.

What are your main issues in this election?

Utter maladministration of the Khattar government, rampant corruption, unprecedented levels of unemployment and complete annihilation of trade and business. Unheard of atrocities against women and Dalits are also prominent issues. When 15 lakh youth apply for 4,500 posts of clerks, it mirrors the level of unemployment.

The Khattar government is also accused of killing over 200 innocents in the last five years, be it the premis [followers] of the Dera Sacha Sauda or the followers of Baba Rampal or the reservation agitation [by Jats]. Then, there is a mining mafia, overloading mafia and the forest mafia, with the finger of suspicion pointing at the Chief Minister himself.

There is simmering dissent against this government and I am sure the current results will reflect it in some way.

You are raising local issues but Home Minister Amit Shah in your constituency talked about Article 370 and the National Register for Citizens (NRC). He asked the Congress to spell out its stand.

His problem is that the BJP has delivered zero in terms of governance, agenda and schemes. The election is fought in Haryana and not in Kashmir, not in Assam or West Bengal. Neither is NRC an issue here nor are the other two.

Mr. Amit Shah has nothing to say about Haryana for he knows the government is marred with maladministration. That’s why he is fearful of talking about performance. Lest he is hooted and booted out. It’s a typical Amit Shah ploy to divert attention.

Your leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda had endorsed Article 370. That’s why perhaps the Home Minister wanted the Congress to clarify?

In terms of Haryana or Kaithal, he has nothing to say. If you have nothing to say, why come to Haryana at all.

Mr. Amit Shah forgets that Haryana is the land of the Mahabharata and in the land of the Mahabharata, the Congress are the Pandavas and the BJP the Kauravas. Neeti and Dharma have always won and they will win again. Shakuni like comments by Mr. Shah will not help.

There is a Mahabharata happening within the Congress. Former Congress Chief Ashok Tanwar quit the party right in the middle of the election.

Even if a single Congress worker leaves, it is painful. There were differences with regard to ticket distribution between the leadership and the former Pradesh Congress Committee president. Yet, he shouldn’t have expressed them in the manner that he did. That certainly is a against the decorum and discipline of the party. Still, I believe, the onus lies with Kumari Selja [PCC President] and Bhupinder Singh Hooda to reach across the aisle, restart a conversation with Mr. Ashok Tanwar and bring him back.

Can he hamper Congress’ poll prospects?

I don’t think any Congress leader will work against the party. That is not in the grain of leaders true to the Congress ideology.

Rahul Gandhi going abroad in the middle of an election indicates all is not well in the Congress.

People have just filed their nomination. Big public rallies are yet to start and Rahulji is already back. He will be addressing rallies and I don’t think his meditation trip of three or four days should be made such a big deal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept the Lok Sabha polls here with the BJP winning all the seats. How will you counter his popularity?

Mr. Modi is not a factor in the Assembly elections. In the 2009 Parliament elections, we won nine out of 10 seats, winning 71 of the 90 Assembly segments. Three months later,we only got 40 seats. People vote one way in Parliament elections and another way in Assembly elections.

How will you counter the perception that Congress is a Jat party?

It’s a very relevant question. This time the Congress party has given representation to every section, esp younger and newer faces. Am I satisfied with it? More space should be created but it is a good beginning.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 7:56:27 AM |

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