May 25, 2024

Haryana/Himachal

Clout of Haryana’s two Lals fades in 2024 parliamentary polls

IANS | May 10, 2024 06:47 PM

Chandigarh:  In Haryana, the legacy of the three Lals -- Chaudhary Devi Lal, Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal, who ruled the state’s dusty and defection-ridden politics for nearly three decades after the state was carved out of Punjab in 1966, mattered in all the previous elections.

However, in the parliamentary polls that are underway, the dynasty of four-time Chief Minister and two-time Union Minister Bansi Lal and three-time Chief Minister Bhajan Lal has lost clout, literally.

Their families are out of the electoral battle for the first time after several decades of dominance.

However, the legacy of former Deputy Prime Minister and the state’s tallest Jat leader, Chaudhary Devi Lal, considered the ‘Tau’ of Indian politics, is testing political waters even now.

His four family members are battling it out in the elections slated on May 25.

Bansi Lal’s granddaughter, Shruti Choudhry, has been denied the Congress ticket from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh this time, while Kuldeep Bishnoi, the younger son of Bhajan Lal who joined the BJP in 2022, has been denied nomination from Hisar, where a fratricidal battle is on within the clan of Chaudhary Devi Lal, whose founded regional party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), and its offshoot outfit Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) are floundering.

In 2009, Bhajan Lal, a non-Jat leader, was elected from Hisar as a candidate of his own party, Haryana Janhit Congress. Shruti Choudhry was elected the MP from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh in 2009, lost to BJP’s Dharambir Singh in the 2014 and 2019 polls.

Her father, Surinder Singh, had contested the Bhiwani Lok Sabha seat in 2004 as a Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) candidate, but lost to then Congress candidate, Kuldeep Bishnoi.

Bansi Lal's daughter-in-law Kiran Choudhry, mother of Shruti Choudhry, is the fourth consecutive term legislator from the family citadel, Tosham.

This time, the first, second and third generations of Chaudhary Devi Lal are in the battle to save the sinking ship of the INLD, once a force to reckon with, and of Dushyant Chautala’s JJP.

After the family feud within the INLD, five-time Chief Minister OP Chautala’s grandson Dushyant split the party vertically in 2018 and formed the JJP. In 2019, the JJP extended support to the BJP to form the government in the state. Just ahead of the parliamentary polls, it withdrew its support.

Ranjit Singh, who is Chaudhary Devi Lal’s youngest son, and two daughters-in-law of his eldest brother face one another in the dynastic supremacy feud from Hisar.

While Ranjit Singh, a Cabinet minister in the state government, is the BJP nominee, his two ‘bahus’ -- Naina Chautala and Sunaina Chautala are the JJP and the INLD candidates, respectively.

While Naina is the mother of former Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant and wife of Ajay Chautala, who is Chaudhary Devi Lal’s grandson, Sunaina is the wife of Ravi Chautala, who is a son of INLD patriarch OP Chautala’s elder brother Pratap Chautala.

Naina, the first woman who took a political plunge in the 80-year-old history of the Chautala family and is known for ‘Hari Chunari ki Chaupal’ campaign to mobilise women voters, is a two-time legislator, while Sunaina has been leading the INLD’s women’s wing since 2019.

Another member of Chaudhary Devi Lal’s family in the fray this time is Abhay Chautala, the younger son of OP Chautala.

He’s contesting as an INLD candidate from Kurukshetra against the BJP’s Naveen Jindal and INDIA Bloc’s Sushil Gupta, who is the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) state chief.

Abhay Chautala in his nomination papers declared assets worth more than Rs 45 crore. His uncle Ranjit Singh in his nominations declared a few buffaloes and cows, besides owing immovable assets of Rs 15.25 crore.

Naina was fielded for the first time from the Dabwali constituency in INLD’s stronghold in Sirsa District in the 2014 Assembly elections after her husband Ajay and her father-in-law Om Prakash Chautala were sentenced to jail in the junior basic trained (JBT) teachers scam in 2013.

Interestingly, neither of the Chaudhary Devi Lal clan nor the Congress nominee Jai Prakash, who started his political career by associating with Devi Lal, belong to the Hisar parliamentary constituency.

The Devi Lal family belongs to Sirsa District, while Jai Prakash belongs to the Kalayat Assembly constituency in Kaithal District.

The INLD was founded in October 1996 as Haryana Lok Dal (Rashtriya) by Chaudhary Devi Lal, who served as Deputy Prime Minister of India in the VP Singh Cabinet.

His son OP Chautala is the current president. The party was renamed into its current name in 1998.

Two-time Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s son Deepender Hooda is in the fray from Rohtak. The elder Hooda is the son of former Minister (in undivided Punjab) Chaudhary Ranbir Singh.

Union Minister and three-time MP, Rao Inderjit Singh, a descendant of freedom movement leader (1857 War of Independence) Raja Rao Tula Ram, has considerable influence on the Ahir community. He is in the fray from his bastion Gurugam as the BJP nominee.

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