Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi/Files)
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij is not satisfied with the functioning of the state intelligence department and has also warned officials in police, health and urban local bodies departments to either shape up or he will set them right. Vij tells The Indian Express that government cannot be run sitting in Chandigarh and ministers should hit the ground to see if policies are actually being implemented.
Excerpts from an interview
As a Home minister, what are your top priorities?
I cannot deploy one policeman for every citizen. But, I want to create a police force that every criminal fears...that before committing any crime, his soul must shiver with fear. I have already begun efforts. People’s grievances are of utmost importance for us. The long queues outside government offices mean that there is nobody to hear people’s grievances. After taking charge as Home Minister, I opened my doors for people. They are now visiting me in large numbers. Similarly, I have instructed police officers - from SPs to DGP - to hold janta darbars everyday to hear people’s grievances, record their complaints and issue them a receipt number for future references. I am receiving a positive feedback. My another priority is to bring down the organised crime rate, kidnappings, abduction, contract killings, extortions... Crime against women is another key area of focus. Although Chief Minister
(Manohar Lal Khattar) opened women police stations, but there are several difficulties. One (woman) police station in entire district is not feasible. When a woman goes to a nearby police station with her complaint, she is referred to the women police station. Now, it is not possible for every woman to go all the way to the woman police station in her district. Thus, I have ordered to set up a women’s cell in every police station. We need to weed out drug menace. Operation Prahaar has begun, a few results have come but they are not satisfactory. Daily report is reaching me regarding efforts by each and every district SP to weed out drug menace.
Does it mean that as a Home Minister, you are encouraging the trigger-happy culture in police force?
I am against fake shootouts, but if there is a genuine encounter, that is also policing.
You, as a minister, conduct surprise checks, scrutinise official records on your own and then take action at the spot. Do you feel that these at-the-spot suspensions bring in a change?
Yes, it is acting as a deterrent. I feel that the government cannot be run sitting in Chandigarh. Whatever policies we make or orders we issue in Chandigarh, we need to check whether they are actually being implemented on ground. The departments must understand that if Karnal is inspected today, it could be their turn tomorrow. A lot of improvement happens that way. [Vij had recently conducted a surprise check in Municipal Corporation office at Karnal, found a number of officials lacking in their official duty and had suspended five at the spot].
Do you also believe that your Cabinet colleagues should also adopt same style of functioning?
Every person has his/her own style of functioning... We talk (about) too many good things (while discussing policies) at the top level, but in my opinion, what is actually happening in the field, needs to be assessed by visiting the ground. Thus off-and-on, one needs to check for himself/herself whether decisions are actually transforming the system or not.
Recently, two key officers of Chief Minister’s office were given additional charge of your departments. It is construed that your wings are being clipped. How do you see it?
I have no rights to interfere in whomsoever CM appoints in my department. But, the police and local bodies are two departments that are directly connected with the lives of common people. A lot of work needs to be done in these two departments. In such departments, if you appoint an officer who is also working in the Chief Minister’s office and the officer does not have a spare second to even answer a phone call there, then these departments can not improve. He [CM] can appoint, I welcome it, but then they [officers] should leave the CMO. And I have also told these officers that they need to choose. If they want to work with me, they are welcome because they have tremendous experience. I have told them that I do not have any grudge against you, but you will have to leave the CMO. I have also conveyed this to the CM. He said, he will look into it.
Numerous meetings have taken place to analyse party’s slip in this year’s Assembly polls. What conclusion has BJP drawn for its Cabinet’s failure in the polls?
The process of analysing is yet on. Our central leadership, for instance BL Santosh who is our General Secretary (organisation), has held meetings with those who won and also those who lost. There is a possibility that he will hold more meetings. That’s why, till that process is completed, it shall not be correct to comment anything on it. But, it is correct that we should look into why we slipped; why eight ministers got defeated. These are very serious matters.
Being chairman of the Common Minimum Programme, what is the progress on drafting the document comprising poll promises of both BJP and JJP?
One meeting of this CMP was held in which two nominated representatives each of the BJP and JJP participated. We studied the manifestos of the two parties. Now, I have asked the Finance Department to find out the financial implications of all the demands (promises). I have also asked state Advocate General to find out legality of the demands. They have told me that they will submit their reports in 15 days. Once I get the reports, we will again sit and discuss. Unless, we do not have the financial implication details, we cannot decide.
How much is actually common in the two manifestos?
About 30-40 per cent of the promises are almost the same, but for that also we need to check the financial liabilities.
During the last five years of BJP rule in Haryana, state intelligence’s failure came to fore on a number of occasions. As a Home Minister, are you satisfied with the state intelligence’s functioning?
I have decided to review the functioning of the state intelligence department and very soon, I am going analyse how many reports they correctly put up before the government. I have already given instructions to my staff for the same, but the details can not be disclosed at this stage. I am not satisfied with their functioning.
What about your other departments, including Health that you headed in your previous tenure too and Urban local bodies?
I improved the health sector a lot during the last five years, but definitely more needs to be done. As far as local bodies department is concerned, it is completely in a shambles. There are officials who are extremely negligent in performing their duties. I just want to tell them that either they start shaping up and be responsive to people’s grievances or I will set them all right.