Infightings in Haryana’s political families refuse to die down

Rift among kin of Haryana’s late chief minister Devi Lal for supremacy, which had begun three decades ago, has taken a full circle with each levelling allegations and counter allegations of character assassination against one another. After the death of another former chief minister Bansi Lal, his family has also been fighting for retaining hold on the ancestral properties in public, writes Pawan Kumar Bansal

Late Partap Singh Chautala, estranged son of former Haryana chief minister and former deputy prime minister Devi Lal, used to say that kingship knows no kinship. His observation made during political infightings between his two brothers Rajnit Singh Chautala and Om Parkash Chautala for capturing legacy of their father Chaudhry Devi Lal when he was chief minister of Haryana in 1987 is now proving right with fierce political and personal battle being fought between clans of Om Parkash Chautala.

And this phenomena is not new as earlier also political families of Haryana’s stalwart Late Bansi Lal, former chief minister and union defence minister, has also witnessed fierce battle for supremacy in full public view for retaining hold over family property. Interestingly, Haryana is a land where the battle of Mahabharata was fought between Pandvas and Kaurvas for retaining power. Infighting between Devi Lal clan had started in 1987 when Om Parkash Chautala and his younger brother Ranjit Singh Chautala fought to be the political heir of their father Devi Lal, who was chief minister of Haryana at that point of time. Om Parkash Chautala had emerged the winner and he was made chief minister when Devi Lal was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in VP Singh-led Janata Dal government with Rajnit Singh Chautala leaving his supporters in lurch.

Infighting between Rajnit Singh Chautala and Om Parkash Chautala was so fierce that after the violence in Meham Assembly by-elections from where Om Parkash Chautala had contested against Anand Singh Dhangi, candidate sponsored by Meham Chobisi Panchyat, four ministers of Om Parkash Chautala’s cabinet, all happened to be supporters of Ranjit Singh had resigned from their posts .

Devi Lal’s estranged son Partap Singh Chautala was vocal critic of his father at that point of time. However, he was silenced by appointing him as chairman of a prestigious corporation, the fact which DeviLal has admitted in a press conference when he was asked as why he had appointed his son as chairman.

It all started with Om Parkash Chautala Indian National Lok Dal supremo and former chief minister expelling his grandsons — MP Dushyant Chautala and his brother Digvijay Chautala — from the party for creating ruckus at a rally in Gohana town in his presence. Dushyant and Digvijay, while denying the allegations of indiscipline, had accused their uncle, Abhay Chautala ,leader of opposition in the Haryana Assembly of brainwashing and bulldozing Om Parkash Chautala for taking the decision to expel them. Ultimately, they had formed a new outfit named Jannayak Janata party. Their mother MLA Nayana Chautala had described Abhay Chautala as” Duryodhan”, a notorious character of Mahabharat.

Now the infighting between Devi Lal clan has taken a full circle with family members throwing dirty linen on each other in full public view. In Gohana rally of Indian National Lok Dal, Dushyant Chautala and his supporters had created disturbance in presence of party supremo Om Parkash Chautala and later Dushyant Chautala and his brother Digvijay Chautala were expelled from the party by Om Parkash Chautala. It further intensified the fight with Dyshyant Chautala accusing his uncle Abhay Chautala of forging letter of their expulsion along with party state president Ashok Arora. Dushyant Chautala, with blessings of his father Ajay Chautala, had formed a new political entity Jannayak Janata Party during a rally in Jind .Ajay Chautala described his brother Abhay Chautala as Duryodhan. Even female members of the family have also joined the fray . Abhay Chautala recently described his sister-in-law MLA Nayana Chautala, wife of his brother Ajay Chautala, as a root cause of family infighting. Abahay Chautala said that his father Om Parkash Chautala was opposed to entry of any women from the family in election fray but it was he who got party ticket for Nayna Chautala from Dabwali Assembly constituency and challenged that Nanya Chautala will lose her security deposit in coming elections. A video going viral on social media, in which Om Parkash Chautala’s wife Sneh Lata, who is admitted in Medanta Hospital Gurugram is blaming her grandsons, Dushyant Chautala and Digvijay Chautala for ruining the family. Dushyant group had alleged that this video was managed by their opponents to tarnish their image.

High drama was witnessed over the issue of first cancellation of Furlo (leave from jail) of Om Parkash Chautala, who is undergoing 10 years imprisonment in Tihar jail for what is known as alleged irregularities in recruitment of teachers .First, Furlo was granted and then all of a sudden cancelled and Chautala was shifted from a Delhi hospital to Tihar jail in midnight. Om Parkash Chautala had alleged that his Furlo was cancelled as part of a conspiracy. He called his grandsons — Dushyant Chautala and Digvijay Chautala — as traitors. Furlo was later granted with conduit that during this period Chautala will not take part in any political activities. Now Abhay Chautala has announced breaking of family relations with Digvijay Chautala and Dushyant Chautala. He said that both Digvijay and Dushyant are Aurangzeb, who had stabbed in back of their grandfather Om Parkash Chautala.

Bansi Lal, former chief minister and union defence minister, was wise enough to declare his son Surender Singh as his political heir. Thus, annoying his elder son Ranbir Singh Mahendra to the extent that apart from choosing different political platform he did not even invited his father in his daughter’s marriage. Mahendra developed intimacy with his father Bansi Lal’s bête noire Bhajan Lal. But after the death of Bansi Lal, his estranged son Ranbir
Singh Mahendra and his brother Surender Singh, wife Kiran Choudhary had fought fierce battle to retain the ancestral house of Bansi Lal at Bhiwani. Bansi Lal’s wife Vidya Devi used to stay on ground floor and Kiran Chouhdry, who was minister in Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Haryana government, was residing on upper floor. Kiran had emotional attachment with the house as it was where she came as a bride. On other hand, Ranbir Singh Mahendra wanted to take possession of the house. It was a very tough task for the Bhiwani district administration and Police to prevent confrontation between supporters of both Kiran Choudhry and Ranbir Mahendra. A Police post was temporally set up in the Kothi .

Sources told Tehelka that at one stage Kiran Choudhry had planned to stage dharna against the government of which she was a minister. Even TV chhanels were informed and their OD vans had reached at the spot. The then chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was also perturbed by the development. Ultimately, Kiran Choudhry had skipped the dharna plan on assurance of the district administration that she will get justice..

Similarly, three sons of another former Haryana chief minister and union agriculture minister Rao Birender Singh are in different political parties. Each of them claim legacy of their father, the tallest leader of Ahirwal area which is known as south Haryana. Rao Birender Singh’s elder son Inderjit is in BJP and is union minister in Narendra Modi-led government. Earlier he was in Congress .His brother Yadvender is in Congress and third brother Ajit Singh has asked him to retire from politicis if he is not capable of protecting interesting of people in the BJP. Inderjit is projecting her daughter Aarti Rao as his political successor.

Bhajan Lal, another former Haryana chief minister and former union environment minister, had shrewdly maintained balance between his sons — Chander Mohan and Kuldeep Bishnoi — during his lifetime but after his death both are claiming that they are his
political heir.