BJP’s Haryana MLAs miffed at how CM Khattar's govt is running, speak out openly
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is a troubled man these days. On one hand, he’s dealing with the Jat agitation, and on the other, he’s saddled with working out the issue of sharing rIver waters with Punjab. To add to this, for the first time since his government came to power in the state in 2014, there are rumblings of discontent within the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
More than a dozen MLAs and some MPs have reportedly expressed their displeasure at the way things are moving.
Khattar, reportedly, is attempting to pacify those who are discontent at the behest of BJP President Amit Shah. The party has decided to resolve the issue after 11 March when the results for the assembly polls in five states are declared.
It was before the onset of the current Budget session that the MLAs raised the issue of being ignored in their own regime, speaking of how it is the bureaucracy that is running the show and not the political leadership.
The agitated leaders have also been saying that it is the non-elected people who are bing given key posts – which has been a matter of contention for a while as Khattar has appointed people from outside.
While most of them are said to be RSS functionaries, some of them are allegedly not even from the ranks of the Sangh.
The MLAs have also said that they are being thoroughly ignored when it comes to the organisational hierarchy of the party.
The leaders have reportedly raised these issues with the BJP's organisational leadership several times before also but were told to remain quiet lest their actions be construed as indiscipline.
But this time they aired their discontent in the open.
The RSS hand
Khattar, over the last two and a half years, has earned the reputation of being over cautious in his approach. Observers point out that he has been consulting the RSS functionaries before taking any action.
“This has led to gaps in the day-to-day functioning of the government. The RSS might be laying down the principles for governance but the routine administrative functioning has its own set of rules and there has to be quick instant decisions coming from the chief minister and his cabinet,” says a senior media person who has been covering Haryana for over two decades.
In October last year, Congress leader Rann Singh Mann had released a list of 34 aides, including 24 RSS members from other states, who he alleged ran the Khattar government at the expense of people’s money.
“One needs to understand that the Khattar government has completed its half term. These disgruntled MLAs now want their piece of cake. Now they have got down to bargaining. It is true that the government has been functioning in a slow gear. The process of recruitment has been slow while the talk of transparency has been very high. These MLAs have their own set of expectation and are now raising their voice,” says Dr Gurmeet Singh, a political observer.
Of elections and unfulfilled promises
Sources point out that the disenchanted MLAs are now worried about facing their supporters since they have been unable to deliver what they had promised in the run up to the polls.
Primary among the unfulfilled promises are jobs or other government benefits. They want the government to put the accelerator on recruitment and have their say in transfers and postings.
Senior political commentator Balwant Takshak explains how a lot depends on the outcome of the results of the assembly polls in the five states, particularly Uttar Pradesh.
“If the BJP wins, these MLAs will be asked to be quiet. The message will be that even in the next polls the votes in Haryana will be sought in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and not Khattar. But if the party fares poorly in the state polls, the clamour of discontent will rise and the top BJP leadership will have to give concessions to the agitated leaders in the state.”
Takshak also believes that with two and half years gone, these agitated leaders are now looking for political returns for themselves to enhance their clout in their respective constituencies. He said that the senior organisational leadership will be talking to these Haryana leaders about a week after the results are declared and things settle down.
The state of affairs
Khattar has held a series of talks with the angry MLAs of his party ahead of the budget session to prevent them from embarrassing the government on the floor of the house during the debates.
The MLAs are reported to have told Khattar that corruption is rampant in the state and while the ministers are having a field day, the MLAs cannot accomplish even the smallest tasks thanks to the bureaucracy.
With a strength of 90 members, the Haryana assembly has 47 BJP MLAs. The party also has the support of four independents and a BSP member. The strength of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) members is 19, Congress 17 and the Shiromani Akali Dal also has one member. The five MLAs that are supporting the BJP government also met Khattar separately.
Whether he is able to win over the angry MLAs and MPs on his side remains to be seen in the days to come.
Edited by Aleesha Matharu