Updated: June 18, 2020 7:58:05 am
After being written off in Haryana politics after winning just one seat in the last year’s assembly elections, the Indian National Lok Dal seems to be working on a revival story by wooing leaders into the party fold. The Indian Express explains how the party and the Chautala family, which remained a key player in state politics since 1977, are trying to gain relevance again.
Why did the INLD hit the pits?
It all began with a split in the INLD in 2018 with a bitter power struggle between party supremo Om Prakash Chautala’s sons – Ajay and Abhay. Chautala expelled Ajay and his sons Dushyant and Digvijay from the party while throwing his weight behind the younger son Abhay. The next year, in 2019, INLD suffered a rout in the Lok Sabha elections when in six of 10 parliamentary constituencies, its candidates came on the fifth spot and managed fourth position in four. In several constituencies, INLD candidates could not even secure one per cent of total votes polled. By the time state headed for the Assembly polls a few months later, INLD, which had won 19 seats in 90 member Assembly in 2014, was hardly left with three legisators with most others jumping ship to join the BJP and at least four extending support to the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) of Dushyant Chautala. In 2019 Assembly elections, only Abhay Chautala returned to Assembly on INLD ticket even as the JJP won 10 seats and extended support to the BJP in forming the government.
Is the party on a revival path now?
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In the past over six months, the INLD has been trying to work on a revival story by wooing into the party fold several local politicians. On Monday, several former BSP leaders, including its former Haryana unit president Prakash Bharti and former state coordinator Naresh Saran, joined the INLD. This came almost a week after former Congress MLA Naresh Sharma joined the party. The INLD insiders claim many other local leaders are likely to join the party fold in coming days.
Bharti, who joined the INLD in Abhay’s presence, people gave chance to the Congress, the BJP and the current BJP-JJP dispensation, but all let them down. “INLD is the only viable alternative before people now,” he said.
How is the INLD working on this turnaround?
INLD’s lone MLA, Abhay Chautala, toured grain markets across the state when the farmers were facing difficulties in wheat procurement. It helped him draw the attention of rural population. INLD founder and former deputy prime minister Devi Lal and former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala too had focused on the farming community, a move that paid them dividends. The INLD may keep the farming community on priority expecting a growth in its support base in rural Haryana in the first phase. Earlier too, the INLD had got maximum support from rural Haryana. Further, Om Prakash Chautala, sentenced to jail in a teachers recruitment scam in Haryana, is currently out on parole. His presence among the supporters is also giving oxygen to the party.
Is it possible for the INLD to revive its cadre?
In the 2019 Assembly polls, a significant share of the INLD vote bank shifted to its splitter faction, the JJP. In the alliance government, Dushyant is deputy chief minister but is already facing resentment from a section within the party with one of his MLAs stating that he made the biggest blunder of his life by joining the newly formed party. There have been murmurs within the JJP over Dushyant keeping the lion’s share of the portfolios with him. The INLD leadership is hoping to capitalise on this resentment within the JJP, which they say, is likely to grow. The JJP being the junior partner in the government, there is a gap between the workers’ expectations and delivery by the JJP leadership. In the previous alliance governments, the INLD was always a senior partner with BJP where former’s workers enjoyed overwhelming support from its leadership in the government.
In these circumstances, those who have been traditionally anti-Congress, Abhay supporters believe, may return to the INLD fold. Further, those ticket seekers, who may find it difficult to get an assurance of party nomination from BJP or Congress for the Assembly or the next parliamentary polls, may also prefer to move to the INLD. However, predictions for the complete revival of the INLD at this stage may be too early with both state and parliamentary polls due in 2024.
What Abhay Chautala says
Fifty-seven-year old Abhay claims that the revival of INLD is certain. “We have seen ups and downs many times in our political journey. The people don’t have confidence in the BJP-JJP government as the alliance has failed to deliver on any of its poll promises. The BJP was responsible for the split in the INLD, which has angered the people. Our performance in the Baroda by-election will prove our revival,” says Abhay.
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