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The fresh conviction of its supremo, 87-year-old Om Prakash Chautala in a disproportionate assets case is all set to further dent the already sinking Indian National Lok Dal party in Haryana, which is currently left with a lone MLA Abhay Chautala in the 90-member Haryana Vidhan Sabha.
The Indian National Lok Dal that had been governing the state of Haryana till 2005 when Om Prakash Chautala also served as the Chief Minister from July 24, 1999 till March 5, 2005 had begun to slide ever since the party was thrown out of power in 2005. Chautala had remained seven time MLA in Haryana and also served as chief minister on four occasions including first time from July 24, 1999 – March 5, 2005; from March 22, 1991 to April 6, 1991; from July 12, 1990 to July 17, 1990; December 2, 1989 to May 22, 1990. Multiple criminal cases against Om Prakash Chautala, his sons Ajay Chautala and Abhay Chautala were registered soon after INLD went out and Bhupinder Singh Hooda led Congress government came to power in the State. With Om Prakash Chautala and his elder son Ajay Chautala’s first conviction in 2013 not only sent the party crashing on the political front but also led to a split within the Chautala clan. INLD’s offshoot Jannayak Janta Party was constituted as the Chautala’s two sons Ajay and Abhay split.
Consequently, party’s supporters also followed their respective leaders and the split led to further debacle of INLD, while JJP’s command that was held by a young Dushyant Chautala (Om Prakash Chautala’s grandson and Ajay Chautala’s son) managed to register a significant presence in the State. JJP won 10 seats in 2019 assembly polls and emerged as a kingmaker party as the BJP fell short of majority and had to enter into a post-poll alliance with JJP. Dushyant Chautala bagged the coveted deputy chief minister’s post and also got vital portfolios including Excise and Revenue besides several other important departments. INLD, on the other hand, kept sliding in absence of Om Prakash Chautala. Since he remained in Tihar jail serving 10 year sentence in the infamous JBT teachers recruitment scam, Abhay could not keep the party’s flock together.
In 2009, INLD had 31 seats and was the main opposition political party in Haryana. Om Prakash Chautala was the leader of opposition in the Vidhan Sabha. However, in 2013 he and Ajay Chautala besides 53 others, were convicted on charges of corruption and the party slipped to 19 seats in 2014 assembly polls while BJP created history in the State with 47 seats and formed the government, and Congress was booted out of the power and were left with only 15 seats. Since INLD was the second largest party with 19 MLAs, Abhay Chautala (in absence of Om Prakash Chautala) became the Leader of Opposition.
However, as the time passed and INLD split into INLD and JJP, Abhay Chautala led INLD further slipped. In 2019 assembly polls, INLD lost badly and could retain only one seat – Abhay Chautala – from Ellanabad assembly constituency.
With the Dushyant Chautala led JJP emerging ever since 2019 and INLD on a slide, Om Prakash Chautala’s fresh conviction is going to dent the party’s prospects badly. This is not the only case that is going to impact INLD. There is a separate case of disproportionate assets registered against Abhay Chautala, too. The case is yet going on pending trial and the verdict may be expected soon. If Abhay also faces the same fate as his father, INLD that had been a Chautala-family controlled party will virtually go headless.
The CBI has contended that Abhay owned assets worth over five times his income of Rs 22.89 crore as per income tax records during the 2000-2005 period. The agency also claimed to have found Rs 119.69 crore worth of assets on Abhay Chautala’s name.
Another case of disproportionate assets case was also registered against Om Prakash Chautala’s younger son Ajay Chautala (Dushyant Chautala’s father) in which the CBI had contended that Ajay Chautala possessed assets exceeding his legal income by 339.27 per cent. Ajay Chautala’s legal income between May 1993 and May 2006 was Rs 8.17 crore, but had acquired assets worth Rs 27.7 crore, the CBI had contended.
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