CHANDIGARH: Former Haryana Chief Minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda today criticised the BJP-led state government for fixing academic qualification as criteria for panchayat poll candidates, which was later stayed by the High Court.
"This government is directionless. It is only issuing Tughlaqi orders...," he said in a press conference today.
The ordinance fixing minimum educational qualification for elections to Panchayati Raj institutions was "an undemocratic step" which was "stayed by the HC", he said.
The government had earlier this month through an ordinance fixed Class VIII as minimum qualification for SC and women candidates and class X for other categories' candidates contesting PRI elections.
He alleged that the government wanted to deliberately delay the Panchayat elections knowing that all sections of society were fed up with them.
"They then issued this Tughlaqi order fixing minimum educational qualification which would have deprived vast majority of candidates from contesting, both in the reserved and general category," he said.
"If they were so keen then they should also fix academic qualification limit for MLAs and ask for resignation of those who do not meet them," he added.
The former two-time Chief Minister also said there were numerous cases where old age pension was not being paid in time resulting in a backlog of 3-4 months.
"We used to give pension to 23 lakh beneficiaries, but the present government claim they have given it 10 lakh beneficiaries. What about other 13 lakh. Also, they have not started process to add new beneficiaries," he asked.
Congress demands the pensioners should be given choice to receive money either in their bank accounts or at their doorsteps, he said adding if the government creates problems for pensioners Congress party will launch an agitation.
On Khattar's current visit to US and Canada to attract investment, the Congress leader said "they should first set their house in order before seeking foreign investments."
"In the past 10 months the state government has hiked power rates, both at domestic and industrial front, making power costlier for the industry than neighbouring Punjab also. The law and order is worsening with each passing day. Who will like to come here and invest," he asked.
The former chief minister also hit out at the state government over a host of issues including pending payments of sugarcane farmers, fuel prices and the rise in prices of essential commodities.
"With crude prices going down, petrol should have been at Rs 21 per litre and diesel at Rs 18 per litre. But these are still very high and the benefit has not been passed on to the consumers," he added.
"Farmers in Fatehabad, Sirsa and Hisar regions are also worried because their cotton crop has been hit by white fly pest and has been severely damaged. But no one in the government is bothered about their plight," he said.
"Today, prices of apple, chicken, beer are at par or even less than those of pulses and onion," said Hooda, currently undertaking a mass contact programme in various parts of the state.
Hooda said his party will raise the issues concerning public, both on the streets and in the Vidhan Sabha.
Asked about the state Cabinet decision on August 15 to expand the area of enquiry of the Justice Dhingra Commission, he said, "I have already said if they (govt) had to set up a Commission, then it should involve everything (all land deals) including when INLD-BJP government was in power."
The Commission has been entrusted to inquire into licences issued to develop commercial colonies in sector-83 of Gurgaon during the previous regime.
Asked about ruling BJP's allegation that "change of land use (CLU)industry" flourished under the previous Congress government in Haryana, Hooda said, "I have always said that if anyone has committed any wrong, let the law take its course."
"Anyone who has committed offence will go to jail. But they (BJP) are in the habit of levelling allegations due to political considerations. For setting up an industry and forundertaking development, CLUs will be issued. How will the investor set up industry if no CLUs are issued," he asked.
Talking about state Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar's reported statement yesterday in Jind that the present education system in the country produces only servants, Hooda said it was an "irresponsible statements".
"If this is their thinking, then why should we recruit teachers in the first place and have these schools," he said.
"This is not for the first time a BJP Minister has courted a controversy. Everyday one gets to hear something or the other from Khattar's ministers as everyone is trying to have his say, leading to chaos".