Jail Term to Chautala, Khemka Issue Kept Haryana in News

Sanjay Ganjoo/Chandigarh
Jail Term to Chautala, Khemka Issue Kept Haryana in News

Haryana was in the news in 2013 mostly for the wrong reasons -- be it the jail term to former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala in the teacher recruitment scam, a charge sheet against whistleblower IAS officer Ashok Khemka or a court direction to police to lodge an FIR against a minister in a bogus voters case.

Factionalism and internal bickering remained the order of the day within ruling Congress, which also had issues like anti-incumbency, emergence of AAP, strong opposition in the shape of INLD, besides the HJC-BJP combine to tackle ahead of assembly polls due next year.

Despite speculation of a split, Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) President and Hisar MP Kuldeep Bishnoi managed to keep his party's tie-up with BJP strong.

1991-batch officer Khemka, at present secretary to Haryana government in the Archives Department, continued to be in the news during the year for various reasons. He was named in a charge sheet by the state government in December in connection with cancellation of land deal between Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and realty giant DLF in October last year.

Khemka, however, got support from various quarters, including INLD and BJP, which slammed the state government for going after an "honest officer" while AAP extended an offer to him to lead the party in the state.

78-year-old Chautala, a four-time chief minister and his son Ajay (51), both sitting MLAs, were in January sentenced by a Delhi court to 10 years imprisonment for corruption in a teachers recruitment scam, dealing a body blow to the party.

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who has been at the helm for nine years, may find the going tough before the state goes to polls due to issues like price rise and discontentment among a section of employees.

Besides, Hooda is fighting a strong anti-incumbency wave and his detractors within his party are certainly not helping his cause.

Congress MP from Gurgaon Rao Inderjit Singh rebelled and floated his apolitical Haryana Insaaf Manch. The Ahirwal leader, who enjoys clout in south Haryana could dent the party's fortunes as he has already announced that he will not fight a future election from Congress while giving indications that he may float his own political outfit or may shift his loyalty to BJP.

Another Hooda detractor and senior leader Birender Singh has been sulking ever since he was dropped at the last moment from a Union Cabinet reshuffle this year, with those close to him blaming the Hooda camp for this.

Voices of dissent also came from Congress' Panipat MLA Balbir Pal Shah, who in August threatened to resign claiming his constituency has been ignored, but mellowed down on the persuasion of the Chief Minister who had to go to his legislator's house in Panipat to pacify him.

Congress MLA Zile Ram and former Transport Minister O P Jain, an Independent MLA supporting the Congress government, caused embarrassment to the Hooda government when they were sent behind bars in connection with over a two-year-old abetment to suicide case against them involving death of a former village head in Karnal district.

More embarrassment was caused to the government towards the end of the year when a Gurgaon court directed police to lodge an FIR against Haryana Sports Minister Sukhbir Kataria and five others for allegedly forging documents for getting voter ID cards made for his near and dear ones.

That was not to be the end as recently-appointed Haryana Public Service Commission member Harinder Pal Singh was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment in an attempt to murder case, leaving the government red faced.

Dealing a blow to the Haryana government, the Centre in October quashed a departmental charge sheet issued last year by the state administration against whistleblower Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who exposed several forest scams in the state.

In July, a CBI court ordered framing of charges against former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Nirmal Yadav for corruption while accepting in its entirety the charge sheet filed by the agency against her and other co-accused in connection with the 2008 cash-at-judge's door case.

However, the charge framing in the case was deferred by the CBI court after Justice Yadav sought time citing that she had moved Supreme Court in this regard.

Haryana also continued to remain in news for its notorious honour killings, the worst being the way a couple was hacked into pieces allegedly by the girl's father and relatives in Rohtak district after they decided to tie the knot against the wishes of their families.

In July, the then Gurgaon's Chief Judicial Magistrate Ravneet Garg was booked on a charge of dowry death after his wife Geetanjali's bullet-ridden body was found.

This year, monsoon brought floods in many parts of Yamunanagar and some adjoining districts, causing loss to crops and property.

On the positive side, the Haryana government approved the recommendation of the State's Backward Classes Commission to provide 10 per cent reservation for "economically backward classes" in government jobs.

Haryana, known for its adverse sex ratio, saw its most progressive city Gurgaon (854) figuring among districts having lowest sex ratio, but the overall sex ratio of the state increased to 879. According to data rolled out by Haryana Census department this year for census 2011, overall sex ratio of Haryana jumped from 861 in 2001 to 879 as per Census 2011.

Property tax on residential and commercial properties, which was withdrawn ahead of the last assembly elections four years back, was brought back and re-imposed with effect from 2010.

The much awaited expansion of the Hooda cabinet finally took place after a gap of nearly three years in October. One of world's richest women and Congress MLA from Hisar Savitri Jindal along with party's Nuh legislator Aftab Ahmed were inducted in the Council of ministers.

In August, the state government approved the "Affordable Housing Policy 2013" for mass availability of dwelling units at affordable rates, envisaging to make available about 1.25 lakh affordable dwelling units having carpet area of about 500 sq ft carpet area each in the urban centres of Haryana.

In May, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation for the first Indian National Defence University at Binola village in Gurgaon.

In August, Haryana launched the UPA Government's ambitious Food Security Scheme from Panipat.

The state government took some measures for protection of children from sexual offences and first Additional District and Session Judge in each sessions division was notified as Special Court (Children) in the state under Section 25 of Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.

Haryana also got approval for a Railway coach factory at Gohana.

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