Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala told Sunetra Choudhury that there may be “healthy changes” in Haryana’s 75% domicile quota in private sector jobs. Edited excerpts:
You won the vote of confidence. Was there any point at which you felt doubtful about it?
Not even for a single moment. This was something the Congress just wanted to make an agenda about and disrupt the workings of the assembly for one day. They got their agenda where they didn’t even have the numbers, did not even have something to talk about. We gave them a good answer by showing them a strength of 55 and they didn’t even get one extra vote.
Your party’s legacy has been to represent the farmers. How do you feel about thousands of them sitting at Delhi borders for 100 days now?
Most of the farmers sitting there don’t know what these three laws will do to agriculture and how they will improve or restrict them. Yes, there need to be amendments and I totally support that; the Prime Minister has spoken on it five times and said he is ready for amendments. Today, what I see on why it’s not getting resolved is that there isn’t a single leader. I remember speaking to a Punjab politician and asked him what will happen to this agitation. He said “kakaji, aandolan khare karna aasan hai, khatam karna bahut mushkil hai”. If there are suggestions from these 40 leaders, I will take it to the PM or the home minister but they aren’t ready. They are saying just repeal these laws.
But when you have international agencies criticising the handling of the protests and remarks about your allies throttling protests and calling protesters names such as Khalistanis, does that make you feel good about your alliance?
I don’t think the Prime Minister has called them Khalistanis. There are people who may be spokespersons of the party, too, who came out with names.
So, you are a great believer in reform but don’t you feel you have let down your core farmer voters? They are now asking for your resignation.
I will ensure that every grain be procured at MSP. Once the procurement is done, we will ensure the money gets to their accounts within 48 hours. This was never done and these are reforms we need to do. For the first time, I saw people going against me, I saw farmers going against me. But now they are happy.
So you are basically blaming it all on the farmer leaders? You are saying they don’t have legitimacy?
It is an agitation that needs a single face. Can 40 people interview me like you are?
Are you saying some of the farmer leaders want to end protest?
Most of them want to. I will not name anybody. It is just some people trying to create nuisance. The government has power but we don’t want to get into a tussle. Today, there are 50,000 people sitting there. Ask anyone if the government has put any pressure to move back. We want positive talks to continue and life to get back to normal.
Have you lost some of your support base in the stir?
We have 62% support in the state. Time will come when each and every grain will be procured and then I’ll ask you, have farmers banned me, have they not allowed me?
If we can talk about the 75% quota for locals in Haryana’s private sector. Industry is saying it will completely destroy ease of business.
We will speak to the industry in the future when the rules are framed (just like we did before the law). It is something that states will start thinking about. It is because the GST is now consumption-based and not production-based. We were a producing state and if we have to survive in the future, we have to get more consumption with locals than people who will take the money out of the state. If I talk about this law, we cannot restrict someone who is specialised… I spoke to people from Maruti, Escorts.
What did they say?
Everybody accepts that it will save them money. Yes, everyone also says that ₹50,000 is a very big pay scale for someone who is starting out but ₹50,000 is not fixed in the bill. We can always sit, discuss and revise that on a timely basis. The Act has just been published and has to come into effect in the coming months. I spoke to DLF, I spoke to Mr Bhargava (of Maruti) again; we will sit… Whatever they want us to implement, let us come about with a brainstorming session, finalise on the issues and then move forward on implementation of the law.
But what about the constitutional right to move and work anywhere?
Please open Article 16. It clearly states that you cannot restrict anybody for a job or position “of the state” not “in the state”. It clearly defines that you cannot restrict anybody for a government job.
But that’s been challenged. So final word, we can expect changes in the bill?
We can’t expect major changes but we can expect healthy changes which are beneficial both to the state and to the industry.