The fiercest-ever discord within the INLD has brought to fore family politics and claims for legacy in the state
Deepender Deswal in Hisar
Raaj aur khaaj khud hi karne mein mazaa aata hai” has been the famous observation attributed to former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala by people close to him. Stated in chaste Haryanvi, it means the gratification of becoming a ruler and scratching an itch can be enjoyed best when experienced on one’s own. To pursue dynastic politics, scions of political families have cemented their electoral turf. Gradually as these families grow, the feuds, too, start among progeny to lead the party. Chautala’s statement summarises reasons behind the discord in his own family to claim his political legacy. This is the fiercest ever struggle in any of the political families in Haryana. However, there have been instances of subdued strife in other families as well in past. Here’s a look at other political families in Haryana.
Hailing from Chautala village in Sirsa, the family has pan-Haryana following. The Devi Lal family witnessed a similar strife around three decades back when his sons, Om Prakash and Ranjit, were claimants to his legacy. The discord settled after Devi Lal installed Om Prakash Chautala as the chief minister in 1989. Thereafter, Ranjit joined the Congress. This time the feud is fierce due to the political weight Hisar MP Dushyant and his family carries. With his father Ajay Chautala, who has prepared enough ground in the INLD before Abhay came into picture, mother Naina Chautala making news with her firebrand image and younger brother Digvijay Chautala, with his consolidated a grip among the youth as president of the student wing of the INSO, Dushyant has enough wherewithal to keep up the fight for legacy. His projection as the fitting image of Devi Lal is aimed at claiming his legacy. Abhay, who has practically been holding the party reins since 2013, has the backing of the INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala.
The third Chief Minister, who sprang from nowhere to hold the CM’s chair in 1968, belonged to Bhiwani’s Tosham region. Known as a tough, rigid but able administrator, he has a black spot in political career as a key aide of Indira Gandhi during the Emergency. When he parted ways with the Congress to set up his own Haryana Vikas Party in 1995, his younger son Surender Singh followed suit while son Ranbir Mahendra remained with the Congress. Even when the two rejoined the Congress, Surender was considered his heir apparent but he died in a chopper crash in 2005. His wife Kiran Choudhry and daughter Shruti Choudhry have been winning at the home turf Tosham Assembly seat. Ranbir Mahendra and niece Shruti are engaged in a property feud with mother Kiran by her side. Shruti claims to be the sole heir of the ancestral property of Bansi Lal and her father Surender while Mahendra claims that the family trust was set up by his mother Vidhya Devi, who owns the property as per the registered will of Bansi Lal.
The wiliest of the Lal trio has been wise enough not to leave any space for a family discord at least for his next generation. He cultivated fertile political ground to establish his elder son Chander Mohan in Panchkula while leaving the family stronghold of Adampur in Hisar district for his younger son Kuldeep Bishnoi. A three-time Chief Minister, Bhajan Lal, made his mark as non-Jat leader across Haryana. Though he tried hard to project his son Kuldeep as prominent face in the Congress, Kuldeep’s adamant stand against Sonia Gandhi spoilt Bhajan’s plans who died in 2011. Chander Mohan’s dramatic religious conversion to Islam and return to Bishnoi fold left and repeated political blunders by Kuldeep has cut them to size. They are now struggling to hold on to Bhajan Lal’s legacy.
Rao Birender Singh
The second Chief Minister of Haryana, Yadav leader Birender Singh’s family has a special place as well as palace known as Rampura House in Ahirwal region comprising Rewari, Mahendergarh and parts of Gurgaon districts. Rampura House is considered the centre of Ahir politics. Birender’s three sons, Rao Inderjit Singh, Rao Ajit Singh and Rao Yadvendra Singh have been active in politics. Inderjit, however, has the tallest political stature among the brothers. He ditched the Congress before the last Lok Sabha elections to join the BJP but again failed to fulfil his desire to be the CM. Though the three brothers have sharp political differences, they have never come face to face and fought through proxies.
In the 2014 Assembly elections, Inderjit ensured defeat of his brother Yadvendra Singh, who is a confidante of BS Hooda, by fielding his handpicked man Vikran Thekedar from the Kosli Assembly segment in Jhajjar district. Inderjit is keen to launch his elder daughter Aarti Rao in politics who is eyeing the Rewari Assembly segment. Second brother Rao Ajit aspired to establish his son Rao Arjun Singh from Ateli Assembly segment in Mahendergarh district.
The father of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was a prominent minister in Punjab and Haryana Governments. Besides, he was also a member of the Constituent Assembly. Though he got politically inactive suffering a defeat in 1977 from Kiloi (Rohtak). Later, his son Bhupinder managed to get Congress ticket from Kiloi but to face defeat in 1982 and 1987. He, however, emerged stronger by defeating Devi Lal thrice from the Rohtak Lok Sabha seat. On getting elected as CM, he fielded his only son Deepender Hooda from Rohtak, who is now a three-time MP.