Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar (65) is leading from the front ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls in the state. Khattar was dubbed a novice for his administrative inexperience when Khattar, a former RSS pracharak, took the plunge into electoral politics in 2014.

However, the first-time CM’s performance in the past five years has proved his detractors wrong. His untarnished image and quest for transparency in governance have made access to public services easy. Khattar, a bachelor, is currently undertaking a ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra” in all 90 Assembly segments of Haryana. In an interview to RANJEET JAMWAL during the Yatra, Khattar said given the response of the people, the BJP will sweep the Assembly polls due in October. Excerpts:

Q: In Haryana, the BJP won all 10 seats in the Lok Sabha polls. Do you foresee similar results in the coming Assembly polls?

A: We have given good governance. In earlier times, people had to make rounds of government offices and officers even for insignificant work. Several middlemen used to be at play and the common people had to take their help but despite that their work would not get done. Now no middleman is involved in such things. People can just go online, fill a form and get their work done. They get updates on their mobile phones. So, people are really satisfied. We have made everything available online, all appointments are done on the basis of merit and even transfers (of government employees) are online. So, no one needs a sifarish (recommendation). People get their appointment letters sitting at home. The people of Haryana had never imagined such things would be in place in the state. But since we have made it possible, now people say they had never seen such governance. This is something which has really astonished people and they are in our (BJP’s) favour.

Q: The Modi factor was credited for the BJP victory in the Haryana Lok Sabha polls. The Opposition parties say poll issues as well as results will be different in the Assembly polls.Your comment.

A: It’s a matter of criticism for the Opposition. But today ahead of Assembly polls, BJP supporters have the same enthusiasm they had during Lok Sabha polls. So, the response of the voters in Haryana will remain the same in Assembly polls or it may be even better in some segments. With the facilities we have given to the people, the ease of living that we have ensured and specially the way the Opposition is scattered in Haryana, it’s possible that in many places, we may get more votes than during the Lok Sabha polls.

Q: Both the Opposition parties in Haryana, Congress and INLD, are in disarray. They are divided and demoralised. What will be your message to their leaders?

A: It’s for them to see. The Opposition has got divided due to its own deeds. We have no role in it. If they get wise, they may come together also. In a democracy, all should remain. We are playing our role of serving the people.

Q: How has the response been so far to your Ashirwad Yatra?

A: The response is really good. Thousands of people are responding to the Yatra on a daily basis. So far, I have toured about 75 Assembly segments. People are really enthusiastic (about the BJP and its government).

Q: Unemployment of youth seems to be a major issue in Haryana, with reports pointing out that as against the national average of 6.3 per cent, unemployment rate in Haryana accounts for a staggering 20.5 per cent despite adjoining Delhi.Why?

A: These reports are absolutely false. In Haryana, industries, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have gained so much speed that 50,000 new units have been set up in the state during the past four-and-a-half-years and about five lakh people have been given employment in them. At several places, employers are not getting the required number of manpower. We have also started several skilling centres for training unemployed youth. We send youth for training in industries which require more manpower. Thus, they too get prepared for securing employment. There is no problem of unemployment in Haryana. But it’s true that every year two lakh new youth get added to the number of people who need employment.

We have started a “Saksham” scheme under which we facilitate all youth in getting employment opportunities in government and private sector as well as for apprenticeship programmes. Under this, youngsters in 12 Haryana districts, who were registered with us under this scheme, have got employment so far. Earlier this scheme was for graduates and post-graduates, but now we have opened this scheme for Class XII passouts who are unemployed and want to work. The government will give them work for six hours a day and pay them an honorarium for that. Therefore, the issue of unemployment is not there as such. But yes, if everyone wants a government job, that can’t be given. Those who want only government jobs may not get them. But for those who want to work there is no dearth of work in Haryana.

Q:You were tagged as an inexperienced chief minister. How do you see your journey in the past five years?

A: I am the same as I was five years back. If something has changed, it’s the perception of the people. People used to feel that I am new and have no experience, therefore they used to doubt if I will be able to run the government. I was branded as anari (novice/inexperienced) but now the very same people say I am not anari but khiladi (expert player) of politics. But I am still what I was five years back. I had the mindset to serve the people and it remains the same now as well. The 2.5 crore citizens of Haryana are our family and we will continue to have the resolve to serve the people and will keep doing our work will full dedication.