Monday, March 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

INLD to seek rollback in fertiliser prices
Khurana supports Chautala’s move
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, March 2
Notwithstanding Union Finance Minister Jaswant Singh’s refusal to roll back the increase in the prices of diesel and fertilisers, the former Chief Minister of Delhi and senior BJP leader, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, today supported the INLD supremo, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, in his attempts to convince the Prime Minister in this regard.

Mr Khurana was representing the BJP at the mammoth Vikas rally organised by the Haryana Government to celebrate the third anniversary of the Chautala government here today. Earlier, Mr Chautala had told newsmen that the INLD along with other allies would “force” the Vajpayee government to roll back the increase in the prices of diesel and chemical fertilisers.

He said the farming community was still reeling under the burden of a drought and it was not in a position to bear the burden imposed on them by the Union Budget.

Mr Chautala said in the NDA, the decisions were taken in consultation with the allies. If an ally did not agree with any decision of the government, it was reversed. He was confident that the Vajpayee government would stick to the tradition even now.

Mr Khurana, who was the lone BJP leader present at the rally, said the Prime Minister held Mr Chautala in high esteem because of the unconditional support extended by the INLD leader to him even before the results of the Lok Sabha elections had come in 1998.

Addressing the farmers’ constituency of the INLD, Mr Khurana said it was due to the efforts of Mr Chautala that the Centre raised the minimum support price of wheat from Rs 580 per quintal to Rs 610 per quintal last year despite opposition from the bureaucracy.

Mr Khurana’s presence, sans the state BJP leaders, was the manifestation of Mr Chautala’s attitude towards its alliance partner. While he makes no secret of the contempt in which he holds the state BJP leaders, he leaves no opportunity to shower undiluted praises on the Prime Minister and other Central BJP leaders.

Besides highlighting the achievements of his government during the past three years, Mr Chautala criticised his political rivals, Mr Bhajan Lal and Mr Bansi Lal, during his 35-minute speech. He dubbed Mr Bhajan Lal as a “symbol of corruption, who brought disrepute to Haryana”. He alleged that in an attempt to isolate the Jats from the mainstream, Mr Bansi Lal used to describe (Mr Chautala) as a casteist, which, he said, he was not.

“The same Bansi Lal who used to describe me a leader of Jats alone, used to describe me as “Lala Om Prakash Gupta’, when I restored the grant to the Agroha Medical College, being built in memory of Maharaja Agrasein, the legendary king of the Aggarwals,” Mr Chautala said amidst cheering by the crowd.

He also had a dig at the Leader of Opposition, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who organised a parallel rally in neighbouring Jhajjar town on the issue of the SYL canal, though he did not name him. “If the Congressmen were sincere about the SYL, they should have participated in the all-party meeting and should have gone to the Prime Minister to demand the early completion of the canal,” he said. He described the Jhajjar rally as Congress Ki teharveen (last rites)”.

Daring Mr Bhajan Lal to topple his government, Mr Chautala said the former Chief Minister was able to exploit the “generosity” of Mr Devi Lal and succeeded in toppling his government in 1979. “Today the INLD government, which had created a record of sort by functioning with only 10 ministers in a state which had witnessed jumbo-sized Cabinets in the past, was solid like a rock.

Mr Chautala made a special mention of the Finance Minister, Prof Sampat Singh. He said it was because of the hard work done by Prof Sampat Singh that the state’s coffers, which the INLD government had inherited empty, were now full. He was the only minister whose work was appreciated by Mr Chautala in his speech. He also asserted that the police had solved every crime committed during the past three years.

Mr Chautala claimed that while 15,000 persons had been given government jobs in the past three years, 20,000 more persons would be recruited in the government service during the next two years. Urging the audience not to be misled by the Opposition, he said whereas he had gone abroad to invite foreign investment, his political rivals described these visits as “foreign jaunts”. He said as a result of these visits, a large number of industrial units had been set up in the state. He highlighted various concessions given by his government to farmers and traders.

The Leader of the TDP Parliamentary Party, Mr Yerran Naidu traced the ties between his party and the INLD since the days of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Devi Lal, and Mr N.T. Rama Rao, who jointly launched the nationwide campaign against the Congress. “The same tradition is now being continued by Mr Chautala and Mr Chandra Babu Naidu, Andhra Chief Minister,” he added. Mr Naidu spoke in Hindi whereas speech was written in Telugu script.

The Chairman of the Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, also addressed the rally.

Later talking to mediapersons the Chief Minister said the recommendations of the Kelkar Commission had not been implemented because “these are not in favour of the farming community” and pointed out that he had already been strongly opposing them as these could “harm” the interests of the farmers.


Highlights of Vikas Rally

Rohtak, March 2
The whole town was decorated with flags and banners. Elegant wooden gates were erected at several places. A large number of party workers were seen engaged in beautifying these gates till late last night.


As many as four hot air balloons were flying in the sky. ‘Tees saal ka vikas-Smridhi aur vishwas’ was inscribed on these balloons.


Sixteen-foot-high cut-outs of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal and Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala were displayed near the venue.


All shops, including the tea stalls, in the town remained closed throughout the day.


A slip of the tongue made a senior BJP leader, Mr Madan Lal Khurana say development of “Himachal Pradesh” in place of Haryana.


The people got disappointed as no announcement for providing relief to any section of society was made in the rally.


Several central leaders who were scheduled to attend the rally, including Union Defence Minister George Fernandes, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar, a former Union Minister Mamta Bannerjee failed to turn up.


Vehicles got blocked on the main road as no cop was seen at any traffic point just after the rally ended.

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