Had things worked out as per plan, Dushyant Chautala would have flown off to the UK this January to pursue an MBA in global management. Instead, this 26-year-old grandson of jailed Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala finds himself treading the dusty village lanes in Hisar. He is campaigning to regain a seat his father Ajay Chautala (also in jail) lost to the Haryana Janhit Congress’s Kuldeep Bishnoi by just 6,500 votes in the 2011 byelection.
“I am a politician by chance,” Dushyant is candid enough to admit. “But I have campaigned for my father in previous elections. This is my father’s seat and since he is in jail, I am now here to reclaim it. I have been among the people for the past one year,” he tells The Indian Express, traversing through small villages near Hansi in his customised green Toyota Fortuner, green being the colour of the party.
Om Prakash Chautala and Ajay Chautala have both been convicted in the JBT teachers recruitment scam. “It is a setback not to have them in the campaign. But other elders are guiding us well,” says Dushyant, who misses no opportunity to tell the people that he “had to give up his studies to enter politics”.
The absence of its two top leaders has become a rallying point, too. Dushyant’s pitch is loud as he says that his grandfather and father are in jail because of the Congress. “They are responsible for putting an 80-year-old man in jail. Someone like Lalu, who is responsible for a Rs 700-crore scam, is out of jail because he agreed to bow his head before Sonia Gandhi. Chautalaji is in jail because he refused to bow his head in front of the Italy durbar,” he tells voters.
At every public meeting he addresses, the thrust is clear. “We gave jobs to 3,206 poor candidates. We didn’t loot anybody,” Dushyant tells his audience, referring to the recruitment scam. “Two-and-a-half lakh posts are still vacant. Kick others out to bring our government in, we’ll fill up those posts too.”
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He takes on his main opponent, Bishnoi: “Of the Rs 19 crore he got as the MP, he spent only Rs 11 crore, that too only in Bishnoi-dominated areas in Adampur. I read somewhere that Kuldeep Bishnoi said INLD has shut shop. I want to tell him that we have 31 MLAs and 2 MPs, at least a busload. He should look at his own shop where he doesn’t have even a scooter-load of passengers.”
Claiming to have covered almost 420 of the 450-odd villages in his constituency, Dushyant says he’s confident that there is a wave, even if it is a sympathy wave, in favour of his party. “If polling is above 80 per cent, I’ll win by a margin of 1 lakh votes,” he says.