Song of The Kingfisher

My Encounters With The Three Lals of Haryana

By Asit Manohar

Title: My Encounters With The Three Lals of Haryana

Publisher: Rupa Publications India Private Limited

No. of Pages: 320

Price: Rs 595/-

Ram Verma is an IAS who spent his entire career in Haryana except a brief shift to Delhi which didn’t lasted even for a month. He was one of those non-Punjabi IAS’ who were having Punjab cadre in undivided Punjab. When Haryana was carved out from Punjab, he among other non-Punjabi IAS’ were shifted in Haryana cadre, which Verma accepted with grace. After that he saw the inception, growth, rise of nepotism in politics and corruption and off-course some good work being done by the state governments of Haryana during his period of job that lasted till 2000. Though, Verma has titled this book ‘My Encounters With The Three Lals of Haryana’, the book is all about Ram Verma and his work that saw the rise and fall of three Lals — Bansi Lal, Chaudhary Devi Lal and Bhajan Lal. Probably, he chose or agreed to publisher’s view on the title to catch eyeballs of the readers.

This book has thirteen chapters in which the author has narrated his journey as an IAS which incidentally coincide with inception of Haryana as 17th Indian state on November 1, 1966. First four chapters are devoted to author’s early journey in his administrative life, which speaks volume how much this book is about three Lals and Verma. But, to the credit of the author, he has rightly pointed out that short lived government during the Lals time in Haryana hit the state which was in nascent phase. Had there been a stable government in Haryana and three Lals shouldn’t have involved into the round chair game of throne, then Haryana could have been a much better state than it is these days. However, the author gives credit to the state that even after topsy-turvy situation in Haryana power corridors, the state economy has boomed and in fact surpassed its parent state Punjab — though he fail to mention how much is its vicinity to Delhi had its role in this economic boom in the state. He also fails to mention, if there had been smooth power supply to the industrial clusters developed in the state after partition, what could have been the status of industrial health in Haryana? Thoug, he touches that part when he was posted in Power Ministry of the state and Bansi Lal asked him to supply power in villages at priority rather giving priority to the industries — an emblem of power supply shortage in the state and state gimmick to generate revenue by supplying power to industries on priority basis as it would generate more revenue with same volume for the department.

While comparing the different regimes of Bansi Lal, Devi Lal and Bhajan Lal, the author has put his power behind Bansi Lal as the chief architect of modern Haryana which can be understood as he was at his peak of his career (principal secretary) when Bansi Lal was the Chief Minister. He also gives credit to Devi Lal for continuing the process of making of Haryana being initiated by his predecessor Bansi Lal. It is also well understood because the author was again Principal Secretary in Devi Lal government.

Unknowingly or knowingly, it looks that the author is having the common bureaucrat disease that it’s IAS who run the government not the leader. To establish this assertion with proper reason, author has given an example in which he narrates the story of transport department where he was posted during one of the Lals government and he was asked to award transport permit in defecto manner which the author in his words ‘declined’ to do and got transferred. He tries to authenticate his version citing, “had the government paid heed to his objections, the corruption surfaced after some days which marred the Lals later on could have been avoided.”

Therefore, in an indirect manner, this book tells you the role of a bureaucrat in success or failure of a government. If a leader is a good listener and has the potential to hear the word ‘no’ from his subordinates with ease, then there are strong chances of his success as it happened with Bansi Lal. Author also reveals that being close to all three Lals during his entire career as an IAS, Bansi Lal and Devi Lal were concerned about the poor condition of farmers in the state and were always ready to work for them. But, he also reveals that had they cultivated such kind of apathy among their successors, political condition in Haryana could have been different. Author revealed in his meeting with the author of this story, ‘nepotism eclipsed the respective parties of these three Lals and the state which has immense potential for growth in industrial and farm sector.’ He gives credit for high irrigation water supply being done during the tenure of Bansi Lal which was seconded by his successor Devi Lal in Haryana. But, it looks that author is severe against Bhajan Lal as he gives all credit for the bad things happening in Haryana in the name of ‘aaya ram gaya ram’ politics which finally led to anti-defection law becoming a legislation. Technically, it’s difficult to prove and author too doesn’t give proper reason for painting Bhajan Lal an antagonist in Haryana politics though all three Lals were indulged in same practice. Probably, the author has rated these three Lals of Haryana on the basis of his rapport with those Lals.

So, in short, the book is like a Kingfisher song. As Kingfisher bird sings to regale herself the author too looks has written this book to revere himself.