Haryana politics in for major shift as Chautala’s jail term gets over

Former five-time chief minister Om Prakash Chautala has had a tall stature among farmers in Haryana. With his return to active politics, the poll prospects of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) are likely to look up substantially and the party’s organisational strength gets a fillip, reports RAJESH MOUDGIL

With the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) supremo Om Prakash Chautala getting out of the jail with a special remission of six months granted by Delhi government in his 10-yor six year sentence in JBT recruitment scam, the political dynamics of Haryana are in for major shift.
The former five-time chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and his elder son Ajay were among over 50 people who were sentenced to 10-year jail in the JBT recruitment scam on January 16, 2013.
Elaborating on the release of Om Prakash Chautala, his lawyer Amit Sahni told media that it had been a long battle to seek justice for the petitioner as the Delhi High Court had to be approached on multiple occasions for his release and even the said court had reprimanded the Delhi government for not considering his early release despite his fulfilling all parameters.

He had submitted that the petitioner was aged about 83 and as per the disability certificate, the petitioner was suffering from 60 % permanent disability of residual paralysis of both lower limbs and left upper limb. The release of the Om Prakash Chautala is being seen as a major fillip to the party which had suffered severe jolts since his imprisonment about nine months ago.

The INLD, which had remained a major political party of Haryana with its huge base in rural Haryana, had suffered a crippling split and which subsequently led to the formation of the breakaway Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) in December 2018.

It happened after the party chief Om Prakash Chautala expelled his grandsons, Dushyant, then INLD MP from Hisar and his brother Digvijay for anti-party activities, on November 2, 2018. Chautala Sr was reportedly anguished over the unruly crowds at the INLD rally in Gohana (district Sonepat) held on October 7, 2018. A few days later, he also showed the door to his elder son and former MP Ajay for holding an “unconstitutional meeting’’ to support his sons on November 17, 2018, in Jind.

However, since the split in the party – which reportedly got arisen due to personal ambitions to have political supremacy in the family — became bitter with time, an unrelenting Dushyant worked overtime to bring many INLD workers and leaders into the JJP fold. This all continued to happen in phases at a time when both party supremo Chautala and Ajay were in jail.

In his reaction to the split and subsequent to loss to the party, the younger son of Om Prakash Chautala and senior INLD leader Abhay, however, held he had no political ambitions though he was forced to come to the forefront of the family on the insistence of party workers and leaders after his father and elder brother Ajay’s imprisonment. Result? The INLD which had won from 19 seats (out of total 90) in the 2014 assembly elections, was left with only one MLA after 2019 polls, with all the others having joined either JJP or the BJP or Congress. The INLD could not have suffered more. Not only this, the party fared poorly in the Lok Sabha election too as it failed to win any of the total 10 seats.

Political scene
After a vertical split in INLD, the JJP had forged an alliance on April 12, 2018 with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The AAP was active in Haryana since 2014-, when it fought all the 10 Lok Sabha seats, though all its candidates lost their deposits. The AAP had also supported JJP candidate Digvijay Chautala in Jind bypoll in 2019, which he lost to BJP candidate.
From being the youngest MP in the state in 2014, the JJP leader Dushyant Chautala, 31, is not only the youngest legislator but also the youngest deputy chief minister in Haryana.
Also, he not only brought his JJP 10 seats in its maiden election in 2019 and forged the post-election alliance with BJP but is also the deputy chief minister, currently. He also has another member from his rookie party as a minister in the coalition government.

The JJP snatched several INLD strongholds such as Uchana Kalan from where Dushyant won, Badhra, Narnaund, Uklana, Gulha, Barwala, Jullana, Narwana, Shahbad and Tohana. Dushyant defeated Uchana Kalan sitting legislator Prem Lata, wife of senior BJP leader and former Union minister Birender Singh and mother of Hisar BJP MP Brijendra Singh.
Having come thus far, Dushyant would like to believe to have taken over the political legacy of his great grandfather and former deputy prime minister Devi Lal, having eroded the support base of the parent outfit — the INLD.
The Congress, however, had also improved its position — from 15 seats in 2014, it had bagged 31 seats in 2019, thus becoming the main opposition party in the state assembly now. Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is the leader of the opposition.

The road ahead
Even though Chautala Sr would be barred from polls under Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for six years, his return is being seen as a major booster to his party –INLD.
The said Act reads: A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years… shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.
Workers and leaders, including media coordinator Rakesh Sihag say the INLD would now rise and grow like never before. According to Sihag not only the farmers of the state would have their stand consolidated and fight against the three contentious farm laws tooth and nail, but the strength of the party workers and leaders had now been rejuvenated.
The party workers said while the people of the state have seen JJP and hence are not even allowing them entry in their respective areas, the Congress continues to be plagued with internal bickering.