“Hamare ghar ki kisi bhi mahila ne aaj tak chunav nahi lada tha aur na hi koi mahila hamare ghar ki dahleej se bahar gai, (neither has any woman from our family contested an election before nor has any woman crossed the boundary of the house),” says Leader of Opposition in Haryana Abhay Chautala, referring to his sister-in-law Naina Chautala.
The Chautala family fielded Naina Chautala from Dabwali constituency in its stronghold in Sirsa district for the 2014 assembly elections as her husband Ajay Chautala and her father-in-law Om Prakash Chautala were sentenced to jail in junior basic trained (JBT) teachers scam in 2013.
Abhay Chautala explains that he got a ticket allotted for his “bhabhi” (sister-in-law) so that people of the constituency wouldn’t feel the absence of his brother who represented the seat earlier.
Speaking to mediapersons in Jind on Tuesday, Abhay claimed that his father Om Prakash Chautala did not want to field Naina or her son Dushyant Chautala for the Assembly or Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
Naina Chautala is the first woman who took a political plunge in the 80-year-old history of Chautala family where two-time Chief Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal later became Deputy Prime Minister. Devi Lal’s elder brother Sahib Ram was elected an MLA in a by-election in 1938 on Congress ticket. Devi Lal himself became MLA in 1952 and the Chautala family kept testing political waters.
Former Haryana home minister and Congress leader Sampat Singh, who was associated with the Chautala family for four decades till 2009, says, “It’s not only about one family in our region, particularly Sirsa and Fatehabad districts. Lack of education and feudal mindset always discouraged women from entering politics. Even now, men in the family represent most elected women panchayat members.”
Naina started holding a political event ‘Hari Chunri Chaupal’ exclusively for women in January 2018 to get them associated with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). Green was the colour of pagri (turban) and ‘chunri’ of the INLD supporters and the same colour was retained by the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) formed by Ajay Chautla recently.
“It’s good development if women enter in politics,” says Ranjit Singh, younger brother of Om Prakash Chautala.
In 2016, Abhay Chautala’s wife Kanta Chautala contested a Zila Parishad member poll in Sirsa but she lost the poll battle to her brother-in-law Aditya Devi Lal. After a split in the INLD in November, 2018, there were reports that Kanta Chautala may now hold similar events like of ‘Hari Chunri Chaupal’ to mobilise women for the party. However, Abhay’s family was quick to refute such reports. Dushyant Chautala’s wife Meghna, daughter of a retired IPS officer, is not active in politics.
Om Prakash Chautala’s wife Sneh Lata also never participated in political events. However, after the cancellation of furlough of Chautala recently, a video of his wife became viral on social media where she takes on her grandsons – Dushyant Chautala and Digvijay Chautala for their alleged “role” in the entire episode. The INLD alleged a conspiracy by the Aam Aadmi Party and JJP for cancellation of the furlough, an allegation strongly denied by AAP and JJP.
Meanwhile, in her public meetings in Jind, Naina Chautala, 52, says that “all parties have joined hands to stop her son Dushyant Chautala in the politics but voters of Jind won’t allow the opponents to succeed in their designs”.
Addressing voters during a series of meetings on Wednesday, Naina Chautala said, “My husband Ajay Chautala has returned to jail, handing over my sons Dushyant and Digvijay to you. You have equal right on Dushyant and Diggu (Digvijay) and you may hold Digvijay’s ear if he doesn’t work after being elected to the Vidhan Sabha.” “Our opponents have become upset because of increasing popularity of Dushyant and Digvijay, that’s why they are making efforts to defame my sons. Our opponents see my sons even in their dreams. But brave people of Jind know who is doing what, that’s why they are making all efforts to ensure Digvijay’s win.”