Divided they stand, what next?

Sushil Manav in Chandigarh

With a strong base among Jats and alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, top leadership of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) was hoping for an end to its political drought in 2019. Then, a family feud rocked the party’s boat in October this year. The last time the INLD was in power in Haryana was in 2005.

The feud in Chautala clan started with ruckus created by Hisar MP Dushyant Chautala’s supporters during an INLD rally in Gohana on October 7. It was followed by his expulsion from the party and culminated with the launch of a new political outfit, Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), by him on December 9.

Expelled from the INLD by party patriarch Om Prakash Chautala, Dushyant and his younger brother Digvijay prevailed upon their father Ajay Singh Chautala to create a new political party for them instead of mending fences with their uncle, Leader of Opposition Abhay Singh Chautala, with whom they had leadership issues.

As it comes barely months before the Parliamentary and Assembly polls, the development is set to have a bearing on the poll scenario in the state. Dushyant says his party will provide people the alternative they have been looking for till now, a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative.

“People of the state are fed up with the rule of the Congress and the BJP and are looking for an alternative. We will provide them the best alternative which will work according to the hopes and aspirations of common people. We will work honestly for the upliftment of farmers, labourers, youth, small traders and economically backward people,” says Dushyant.

The Hisar MP says people have lost faith in political parties due to false promises made by them. “They now wish for a party that understands their problems and finds solutions too. I learnt my lessons in politics in the lap of my great grandfather, Chaudhary Devi Lal, who understood the pain of people,” Dushyant says.

In this split, the BJP is seeing an opportunity for itself. 

“JJP's launch will work in our favour as it will divide the Jat votes further. It is a well-known fact that the BJP is predominantly a party of non-Jats. If our party is able to keep its non-Jat vote bank intact, the Jat vote bank, which was to earlier divide between the INLD and the Congress, will now divide among three,” says a senior BJP leader, on request of anonymity.

Dushyant's uncle LoP Abhay Singh Chautala does not see any future for the Jannayak Janata Party. Just after Dushyant Chautala launched his party, Abhay Chautala predicted that the JJP will disintegrate soon. He dares Dushyant and his mother Naina Singh Chautala, MLA from Dabwali, to resign from their seat and seek a re-election if they have any qualms about their popularity.

On the other hand, former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda claims that both the INLD as well as the JJP would disintegrate before the 2019 polls. Political observers, however, believe that Dushyant has a long-term strategy behind the launch of the JJP and he is not targeting the 2019 polls.

“He has his eye on the 2024 polls for Haryana Assembly. Merely stopping the INLD-BSP coalition from coming to power in 2019 will be considered a great success for Dushyant's party. In dynastic political parties, sibling rivalry is common. It will be interesting to see which sibling gets the opportunity to become the CM. Whosoever gets the power in politics, his first goal usually is to cut to size the others, who can one day pose a challenge to him,” say political observers.

They also maintain that if the undivided INLD comes to power in 2019, Abhay Chautala would be the automatic choice for the post of the CM. Hence, it is always in the interest of Ajay Chautala's family to stop the INLD. Even in the 2024 elections, Dushyant's father who was sentenced to 10-year imprisonment in JBT recruitment case in January 2013, would be barred from contesting the polls. However, he would be able to campaign for his sons.

Sources say that even otherwise, by the time Parliamentary polls for 2019 are announced, the JJP will hardly be able to get poll symbols and complete other legal formalities with the Election Commission of India. “If Dushyant's party hopes to reap rich harvest in next year's Assembly polls, his party needs to perform better in the Parliamentary polls too. Also, his party should be all prepared because the Assembly polls can be held along with the Parliamentary polls,” sources add.