DW BUREAU / CHANDIGARH
In the rough storm of Haryana, its a battle to save the ‘sinking ship of the once prominent regional political outfit the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) for the third and fourth generations of Indias former Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal.
The Chautala clan in the poll arena is Abhay Singh, Dushyant, Naina and Aditya Devi Lal. Dushyant Chautala, the great grandson of the late Devi Lal, is fighting for the survival of his newly formed Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) that parted ways from the INLD.
His party is contesting all 90 assembly seats and he is in fray from Uchana Kalan in Jind district.
So is his estranged uncle and Devi Lal’s grandson Abhay Singh Chautala, who is contesting from Ellenabad in Sirsa.
Sitting legislator Naina Chautala is contesting from Badhra in Bhiwani district on his son’s outfit JJP.
The BJP has fielded Devi Lal’s grandson Aditya Devi Lal from Dabwali in Sirsa district.
Dushyant, a business administration graduate from California State University, parted ways with the INLD in December 2018 after a bitter vertical split in the party and the Chautala family.
Former Member of Parliament Dushyant’s father, Ajay Chautala, is the elder son of four-time Chief Minister and INLD President Om Prakash Chautala.
The INLD, which ruled the state the last time from 2000 to 2004, was divided owing to difference between Ajay and Abhay Chautala. Their father remained with the younger son. The INLD has an alliance with its oldest ally the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
In neighbouring Punjab, the BJP has an electoral alliance with the SAD. But in Haryana, the SAD is contesting of three seats in alliance with the INLD.
Even SAD leader and former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will come to campaign for the INLD too. Dushyant, who campaigned along with his great-grandfather Devi Lal who was in the fray in 1996 from the Rohtak Lok Sabha seat, in his addresses to supporters is not only playing an emotional chord but also not mincing words in taking a dig at his estranged family for severing family ties. Dushyant is focusing on the youth with a promise of more job opportunities.
In this election, the INLD banks more on its patriarch Om Prakash Chautala, who after completing his parole went back to jail on October 8.
He is serving a 10-year jail term in Tihar for his involvement in a teacher recruitment scam.
“We had announced that we will be giving 33 per cent seats to women candidates and we have given tickets to more women compared to Congress and the BJP,” senior Chautala said at a public meeting in near Ambala on Sunday. Playing an emotional card, he said: “On October 8, I will be going back to jail after completing my parole and the responsibility of taking charge for elections is now on the shoulders of the workers.” Not lagging behind, Dushyant appealed to the voters with saying, “the JJP is the real representative of the legacy of Devi Lal”.
“The former Deputy Prime Minister was popular among masses as ‘Jannayak’ and that is the why we have included Jannayak in our party’s name,” he has said. The INLD believes the JJP like other political party is a threat to it.
The party’s national general secretary R.S. Chaudhary said the JJP is a bubble that can burst anytime.
Reposing more faith in turncoats to ensure its return, the ruling BJP has fielded 15 candidates for the October 21 polls. They include 11 defected INLD legislators.
Of the INLD’s 19 MLAs, four joined its breakaway faction JJP.
Only the counting of ballot for the 90 seats of the Assembly on October 24 will decide the future of legacy of Devi Lal.