Chautalas’ family first politics in dire straits

Chautalas’ family first politics in dire straits

By SANJAY SHARMA | CHANDIGARH | 19 January, 2013
(L)Om Prakash Chautala & (R)Abhey Singh Chautala
The arrest of Om Prakash Chautala raises concerns about the INLD leadership.

With the arrest of the supremo of the main Opposition party of Haryana, Indian National Lok Dal, Om Prakash Chautala and his heir-apparent son Ajay Chautala, in a recruitment scam, the mantle has been shifted to the youngest Chautala and Indian Olympic Association president, Abhey Singh.

However, the question still haunting the party is who will take over if Abhey Chautala is also punished by courts for his alleged accumulation of wealth through disproportionate means.

The former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, and his sons Ajay and Abhey Singh have been charge-sheeted in a disproportionate assets case as well.

While the state party president Ashok Arora claimed there was no question of a change in leadership saying O.P. Chautala and Ajay Singh will get bail and remain their leader.

A former Chautala party leader-turned-Congressman Sampat Singh said, "Chautala will not hand over power to anybody, even his own son, as he is feudal in his mindset." INLD had already appointed around 60,000 office bearers in the state to manage the organization to the village and block levels.

Sampat Singh recalled 1989 when Om Prakash Chautala first became Chief Minister but had to resign when the election in Meham constituency was countermanded following the death of a candidate, Amir Singh. In the wake of the violence, the then Prime Minister V.P. Singh asked Chautala to resign. Chautala picked up Banarsidas as Chief Minister for only six weeks before he got elected from Dirbakalan.

Chautala again took over as CM as soon as he became MLA but V.P. Singh asked Chautala to resign. Chautala this time picked up Master Hukum Singh as Chief Minister for eight months before becoming the CM again. He continued in the post as V.P Singh had demitted office and Chandra Shekhar, who was friendly with Chautala, had taken over. While the party is still in a shock, the younger Chautala, Abhey Singh has already set the ball rolling by dismissing the court's verdict as an attempt to "frame" a leader who has given jobs to 3206 families without any pecuniary benefit. State INLD president Ashok Arora revealed the party's game plan to project Chautala as a hero for those poor teachers who got jobs because of Chautala.

Arora told The Sunday Guardian, "Abheyji, I and the entire leadership will go across the state and present all 3206 selected candidates before the people for the latter to inquire if Chautala accepted bribe from any of them." According to political analysts, Abhey is aggressive and situations like this demand his kind of leadership as.Haryanvis prefer aggressive leaders.

Om Prakash Chautala himself was not the first choice of his grandfather Devi Lal who preferred his younger son Pratap Chautala. But O.P. Chautala's aggressive politics won him his political space. Abhey is like his father and he has been seen managing the flock of MLAs on the floor of the house in situations when the INLD opposes the government. Ajay, on the contrary, maintains a sober demeanour and has mass appeal.

Dr Chaudhary, a political observer, however, feels the Chautalas will be weakened as the BJP will not align with them and the INLD cadres may desert the leadership.

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