Late Chaudhary Devi Lal, a kingmaker former Deputy Prime Minister of India, sacrificed his own crown claim on the Prime Ministership for another competitor V P Singh. The battle of legacy in Indian National Lok Dal Party, an offshoot planted and nurtured by Late Devi Lal, is again on cross-roads after a long span of three decades. Nearly 30 years ago, there occurred a feudal dispute over the legacy of political assets of Ch. Devi Lal, even during his lifetime, between his two sons – Omprakash Chautala and Ranjeet Singh. But, the then strongest stalwart, Devi Lal, favoured his eldest son Omprakash Chautala and rebuked Ranjeet Singh, which resulted in a revolt by the younger son. That revolt made Ranjeet Singh a zero from a hero, and he had to content in the dark politics of downfall. The elder son Omprakash Chautala got the legacy garden. However, he had to also face the thorns with the glamorous smell of the flowers of politics.
Now as the Indian National Lok Dal Supremo, Omprakash Chautala along with his elder son Ajay Singh Chautala are in jail in the case of JBT teachers recruitment scam. The reins of his INLD party are now in the hands of his younger son Abhay Singh Chautala, leader of opposition in Haryana Vidhan Sabha. But, Dushyant Chautala, an MP and son of jailed leader Ajay Singh Chautala, has also left no stone unturned for uplifting the downsised INLD party, after the conviction of his grandfather Omprakash Chautala and father Ajay Singh Chautala.
Due to people’s distraction from the BJP, internal leg pulling in the local Congress and lack of any third strong alternate in the state, the INLD-BSP alliance shows a thin bright ray of hope to the voters to line up with the alliance. And the public has started to crowd in the rallies of INLD-BSP. But, how can a goat digest the five kilograms of cotton seed cake? The big crowd scenes turned the minds of INLD second liners that they have reached very near to the crown of the state and will surely win the race in the next assembly elections, which are going to be held in a year. This fictive crown in their mind has created a leg-pulling and downsizing competition between INLD Party supremo’s son Abhay Singh Chautala and grandson Dushyant Chautala and encouraged them to have a grip on the party cadre in the state to prove their individual supremacy, throwing the party interest in hell.
In a rally, organised at Gohana to celebrate the birth anniversary of Party’s legendary leader and founder Late Chaudhary Devi Lal in October 2018, a group of enthusiastic youngsters raised slogans favouring and demanding to name Dushyant Chautala as the party’s CM candidate for the coming assembly elections, in the presence of party’s present supremo Omprakash Chautala – which not only showered the hot waters over the ambitions of Abhay Chautala to become the CM, but also boiled the party supremo. Taking the decision with a steamed mind, the party’s National President, Omprakash Chautala suspended his two grandsons – Dushyant and Digvijay Singh from the cadre posts on the charge of indiscipline and got the show- cause notice served to them through a disciplinary committee of the party. Thus, the inner laid dynamite to eliminate each other’s competitors came to a burst in the public court, which resulted in the open verbal war to prove themselves as the real representatives for the party’s legacy.
The image of Abhay Singh Chautala had been advertently portrayed as that of an angry man from his initial stepping in the politics, whereas Dushyant Chautala has been groomed to look like a sober mass leader like late Chaudhary Devi Lal. This sagacious, prudent and sensible image of Dushyant made him more popular, mass favourite and much loved young leader in the party, which irritated Abhay Chautala to the extent of sidelining and defusing him on the party platforms by pressurising the party supremo to expel his competitor from party cadres. This unexpected strict and quick action of party supremo has indirectly conveyed the message to Dushyant Chautala to remain in his shoes and not to try to get out of these. But, sometimes results are contrary to the expectations, and this happened here too. Dushyant came up with an injured lion strategy and started to hold rallies with more strength, and aggressively and clearly explaining his status and conspiracy woven against him on the public platforms. Show of strength is going on from both fronts through word bullets in media and public meetings.
Commenting on the ongoing scenario, Abhay Singh Chautala in a public meeting of his supporters at Charkhi Dadri on October 29 said that a similar conspiracy was hatched by some people three decades before to break the party involving Ranjeet Singh, the younger son of Late Chaudhary Devi Lal, by projecting him as the chief minister of the state and on the same pattern some elements are again trying to break INLD party now, but in the coming assembly elections they will also meet the same fate like Ranjeet Singh, and they will be marginalised to the zero base .
On the same day, nephew Dushyant Chautala reacted on his uncle Abhay’s statement in a meeting at Yamuna Nagar by counter alleging, “Some people are trying to weaken the party and organisation, but their efforts will not be allowed to succeed. Whatever my grandfather, Omprakash Chautala, decides, will be acceptable to us and the policies of the party supremo will not be allowed to downsize by anyone having bad intentions.”
Expressing his anguish over the issuance of show cause notice by the party alleging indiscipline, Dushyant Chautala said, “The drafting of the notice has pained me internally because the words and style of it can never be those of my grandfather(Omprakash Chautala). This smells some conspiracy against me.”
Naina Chautala, an MLA of INLD and mother of Dushyant and Digvijay, has come to support her aggrieved duo. In her ‘Hari Chunari Chaupal’ (the meeting of her women supporters wearing green stole) she gave a clean chit to her sons and asked the audiences, “Is raising slogans in favour of a party leader indiscipline? Supporters of my sons never raised slogans against any party leader, then why they allege the duo of indiscipline?”.
Party workers are also feeling pained over the legacy row and hope for the earliest possible settlement in the party interest. Om Prakash Barwa, a party MLA from Loharu constituency, talking with us over the phone on Friday, Nov 02 2018, says, “We want the party leadership, and Chautala family remain united, and the present row should be resolved at the earliest under the leadership of party supremo Chaudhary Omprakash Chautala.”
A contemporary of Ranjeet Singh revolt era, Ran Singh Maan, presently a spokesperson of Congress and former chief parliamentary secretary in INLD party government, who also had been a close associate of late Chaudhary Devi Lal, says in a statement sent to this writer , “None of the present contenders of Chaudhary Devi Lal’s legacy is the real political heir of him. They all are his mere descendants, and they are fighting for only utilizing Devi Lal’s brand name just to achieve their political goal.”
The present legacy war is also taken as the repetition of the previous one that dashed Ranjeet Singh to the zero political base and raised the eldest son Omprakash Chautala to sky heights and proved him the real political-legal heir of Chaudhary Devi Lal. Here also the battle fighters, Abhay Singh Chautala and Dushyant Chautala, are trying to prove the other one as ‘Ranjeet Singh’. But, the time will tell, who will meet the fate of Ranjeet Singh. It is worth mentioning here that the grip of the then party supremo (Chaudhary Devi Lal) was much stronger than that of present supremo, Omprakash Chautala being in jail and having health problems.
However, Dushyant Chautala is saying in every statement that he will follow the decision of his grandfather, Omprakash Chautala, irrespective of the side he may take. But, the political analysts consider it a diplomatic statement and they clearly conclude that the loser will surely revolt and the winner will be the ‘Sikander’ for all the purposes. Because everyone knows that the winner will not vacate the legacy chair even for the coming kin of the loser. That is why the analysts declare it a decisive and once for all fight.
Now, two situations seem to arise here, and the political thinkers express doubts about the win of INLD party in both the possibilities. If the party splits, both the factions will not touch even the two figure line and if due to any political or family circle pressure they remain undivided and have to fight the elections under one flag of the party, even then the two factions will blow their own trumpets and try to ensure a win for self and a knock out for the other. There is a rumour in the public that Mayawati’s BSP may also think over again on the alliance with the divided house. Whatever the outcome may be, it is certain that the surge of ‘Achchhe Din’ (Better Days) of INLD party is going to the dark house.
Jag Mohan Thaken is a Chandigarh based journalist