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'What will someone do within a year?'

By Sheela Bhatt
May 27, 2015 01:21 IST
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Narendra Modi with supporters


'20% of Modi's goodwill is eaten up by the Hindutvawadis.'

'If you say that everything should be mended within a year, then that is not possible. At least give two, three years to the sarkar.'

Sheela Bhatt/ speaks to Kunwar Haribansh Singh, the Apna Dal MP from Pratapgarh and a BJP ally, to find out if Modi's magic still endures among non-BJP politicians.

There has been a tsunami of articles, features, reports and columns on one year of the Modi government. From Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, everyone is talking about it here, there and everywhere.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had five closed-door meetings with some 100 journalists in the capital in which he gave his views on everything under the Indian sky.

In Mathura, he gave his hisab (accounts) to the people of the work done in the last 12 months by his government. Modi's performance in the first year is debatable, but what is not debatable is his position among the 282 BJP members of Parliament and his unquestioned authority over the elected MPs of the National Democratic Alliance.

In the lobbies of Parliament you won't find anyone who has a doubt about Modi's grip over power.

Sheela Bhatt/ spoke to one non-BJP Modi bhakt to gauge the awe with which some MPs look up to him even after a year, both in private and in public.

The Apna Dal, a Uttar Pradesh-based political party of largely Kurmis of eastern Uttar Pradesh with a strong presence around Varanasi, had a pre-poll alliance with the BJP in 2014 and won two seats to the Lok Sabha.

One of its MPs, Kunwar Haribansh Singh, below, left, is a contractor-turned-builder-turned politician. When Mumbai got its satellite city Vashi, also called Navi Mumbai, Haribansh Singh was struggling to eke out a living in Mumbai's suburbs. With muscle power UP style, and hard work Mumbai style, he made it truly big in bagging the maximum housing contracts in Navi Mumbai, even providing 'protection' to other builders in the area.

A few years ago, he tried his luck with the Congress and fought elections, but failed. After earning millions of rupees, which he never imagined he would, he wanted to sit on the Lok Sabha benches.

When Modi became the lottery to win the 2014 election Singh got his one in a million chance to satisfy his craving for national politics.

On the eve of the general election he tried to get a BJP ticket, but failed. So he joined the Apna Dal, got a ticket and only chanted Modi's name during the election campaign. A man who speaks his mind without fear, Singh represents Pratapgarh in the Lok Sabha.

The an who rode the Modi wave has more than a dozen educational and training institutions in Navi Mumbai and in Jaunpur, UP.

President of the Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya Mahasabha, a powerful community organisation, this is his account of the Modi Sarkar's first year in power, his big plans for his constituency, and how he views the land bill, all spoken in Jaunpuri Hindi.

No more dalals in Delhi

When Modi was given the nation in his hands, it was in a very bad condition. Look at UPA (United Progressive Alliance)-2, I think only the Congress will be able to break the record of the UPA's scams, no one else.

There has never been such huge scams, what all we heard! Rs 2 lakhs crores, Rs 3 lakh crores... Recently, less than 30 coal mines were auctioned out of 200, and Rs 2 lakh crore came from that. This money will go to the states which will become strong. The nation is made through the coming together of states.

Since Modiji has come to power, corruption has ended, at least in Delhi. I won't say it has ended in the villages. Because where the NDA is in power in the state, where they have their government, they are doing something, where they don't have they obviously can't do anything. But it is minimising slowly and it is up to each one to work properly in their areas, bring their problems to the prime minister.

He listens everyday, and there is quick action being taken as well.

In the UPA, politicians used to have dinners in five-star hotels, the allotments of resources that used to happen, there are no more dalals in Delhi! Because of which the five-star hotels have emptied, as well as big clubs. This change is because of Modiji.

I am a businessmen in Mumbai. I was born into a farmer's family in UP. I can see that the PM is laying down a very strong foundation. One example is that internationally we hardly had any recognition. Now to get Obamaji to Rajpath for three hours is a very big thing. You can see he is touring many countries, which we had not visited for the past 10, 15 or 20 years.

I can tell you that everything is being improved. If you mean to say that everything should be mended within a year, then that is not possible. At least give two, three years to the sarkar.

Kunwar Haribansh SinghMeeting Modi

I have met Modiji. All the MPs from UP were invited by him for a meeting. I thought I have been given two, three minutes' time to speak to him, but we spoke for 16 minutes about UP's development. He asked me about what I do. I told him I have my business in Mumbai and I am a man made from zero. He said it was people who start from zero who do some significant work eventually in life.

I told him I have a construction business in Mumbai. He asked about my family. When I said I have two sons, he asked about them. I told him my business was so huge that all of us work in the family company. He asked what I thought of the villages in UP. I told him I was thinking of starting a sugar factory and a power plant which will be attached to it. That would generate 20 megawatts of which three, four MW would be for our use and the rest can go to the state pool.

We have some 200 acres of land in our different outfits and we are thinking of a mega food park with around 30 factories on it. We also want to set up a milk dairy there. We told Modiji that out of the 200 acres, 90 acres would be used by our sugar factory, distillery and sugar refinery, while 50, 60 acres would go for our mega food park, and 20 acres for the dairy. Thirty acres will be left on which I wish to open a university for skill development.

I told him I want to name it NAMO Skill Development School, to which he laughed and said nothing. I would name it only with his permission, not otherwise. Else, people would say we did just to get some advantage. I have talked about it to (Human Resources Development Minister) Smriti Irani too.

First of all I told Modiji that I was very happy and our people were also very happy that he represents eastern UP. There has been no politician to represent eastern UP. There have only been two politicians, Mulayam Singhji and Mayawatiji and both have been from western UP. After Kamalapati Tripathiji, Veer Bahadur Singh, V P Singh and Chandra Shekharji, there has been no big politician from UP.

There has been no development in eastern UP and we have a lot of expectations of him. I told him that my 200, 250 workers from UP are going to Gujarat to see the brilliant work that he has done -- he had check dams which increased the water level, dairies that have been working well, like Amul and Sagar.

Recently the media turned critical of us. They claim that in UP our votes have reduced by five per cent or so. But, according to me, there hasn't been any difference. People want to give Modiji two years' time. What will someone do within a year?

He was the chief minister, wasn't even a minister at the Centre, and now leaving everything aside he took up the responsibility of becoming the PM.

The land bill is good

I support the PM's initiative on the land bill too. I am from Jaunpur and I know farmers support it. It is not anti-farmer. Suppose you are a farmer, we are paying you four times the land value. Say, if you are getting Rs 10 lakhs (Rs 1 million) for one acre we are giving you Rs 40 lakhs (Rs 4 million) and employment for one of your children, and there are other benefits as well. What else do you want?

The thing is, we need to publicise it from village to village. We will have to make pamphlets, hoardings, and after all this we will have to issue advertisements that these are all misunderstandings.

I think the Congress is doing mischief. Have you ever been to Rahul Gandhi's constituency, Amethi? Is there anything there? It is shocking to see how backward it is.

I think Akhilesh Yadav has been doing well since the past three months. His good luck is that the foundation stone Mayawatiji had laid for power generation has started showing results. By the end of this year, production of 5,700 megawatts power would begin in UP. There has been no effort from his side, it has been his luck.

What is needed in an Indian village? Electricity and roads. This year UP has been given Rs 26,150 crore (Rs 261.5 trillion) of extra money under the new Finance Commission.

Give 15 per cent of developed land back to farmers

When the land bill ordinance was brought, a meeting of 73 NDA MPs from UP was called. We were served dinner and told that this was happening. I had suggested that 15, 20 per cent of the developed land acquired from farmers should be given back to them, and asked for an amendment to this effect.

So when the land develops, if it is an industrial area, there will be industries right in front of his land and if it is a commercial area then there can be a farmer's petrol pump or restaurant.

By this way we will be able to explain to them that these are the benefits of letting the government acquire the land.

Modiji was sitting right in front of us at that meeting. Some big politician, I will not take his name, said there was no such provision. I said I was asking for a provision to be made in the land bill, it will be good if such a provision was made. I was asked if anything like this has happened anywhere in India before.

I told them I have been living in Navi Mumbai for the past 40 years and it has developed only on this basis, that 12.5 per cent of the developed land was given back to the farmers there.

Imagine the farmers whose children once didn't have even nappies to wear today roam around in cars worth lakhs. One acre is worth Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) or so. You have no idea how well the land issue has worked out in Navi Mumbai.

On the issue of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust land, some people went up to the Supreme Court, whose judgment said when Rs 15,000 per acre was the land rate and farmers were being given Rs 35,000 which was fine. However, even though farmers lost in the Supreme Court, they were given more benefits.

I told Modiji that farmers were not agreeing to the construction of an international airport in Navi Mumbai but now we have settled it at 22.5 per cent. They are being given 22.5 per cent of the developed land back.

Modiji wants Gujarat's development to be replicated in UP.

This is not at all a 'suit-boot ki sarkar.' Our PM made a suit and you all made a hype about it in the media. Doesn't he have the right to wear a suit? When he goes abroad will he go wearing a dhoti? This is getting a bit too much.

My own feeling is that 20 per cent of Modiji's earnings and goodwill are eaten up by the Hindutvawadis. Modiji always says, 'Sabke Saath, Sabka Vikaas.' Today even Muslims are ready to support Modiji, but when these people say something they hesitate.

Since this government is new, it can't take stern action against the ministers, so it does get a bit difficult.

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Sheela Bhatt / in New Delhi
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