IN AN apparent bid to set the political tone for the 2019 Assembly polls, the main opposition party in Haryana, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Monday announced that farm loans would be waived if the party was voted to power. The party has also promised free power to the agriculture sector and promised to cut domestic power tariff by half.
The announcements came at a rally organised in Bhiwani to celebrate the 104th birth anniversary of former deputy prime minister Chaudhary Devi Lal. The announcements were part of a message by former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, who is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in Delhi in connection with a teachers’ recruitment scam in Haryana.
Chautala’s message was read by his younger son and leader of opposition in Haryana assembly, Abhay Singh Chautala. The announcements regarding farmers seem part of INLD’s strategy to emerge a strong political force in the khapland at a time when the peasants are facing tough times because of agricultural turning to be a non-profitable occupation. Absence of profitable prices of crops and debt on peasants have already agitated the farmers. Further, farmers have been a strong votebank of INLD since the days of Devi Lal, who was fondly referred to “Tau Devi Lal”.
“The BJP government in Haryana has failed to give 50 per cent profitable prices over the cost of crops’ production despite promising to implement Swaminathan Commission Report. But we will procure the agriculture produces on better rates even than of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to be announced by the government,” claimed Chautala.
Projecting the party as a well-wisher of senior citizens, who were first given old-age pension by Devi Lal government in 1987, the INLD has promised that their pension would be enhanced to Rs 2,500 per month. Chautala also said the INLD would provide employment to every household as well as unemployment allowance to the youth, if the party was voted to the power.
An interesting feature of the INLD rally Monday was that this was the first time since such rallies have been taking place when no leader from any other political party, except one, was seen on the dais.
The only exception being JD (U) leader K C Tyagi, who was one of the many non-Congress leaders who were mentored in politics by Chaudhary Devi Lal. There was a notion among the INLD leaders that these days almost all former allies of Chautalas are either associated with the Congress or the BJP. The Chautalas are battling against both parties in Haryana.
A large number of INLD activists wearing green attire and carrying green flags poured in to attend the rally. The workers travelled in tractor-trolleys and buses to reach to the rally venue.
Out on parole, Ajay Chautala attends
It was for the first time that both Chautala brothers – Ajay Singh Chautala and Abhay Singh Chautala – appeared before a huge gathering during the Bhiwani rally on Monday after Ajay Singh along with his father Om Prakash Singh Chautala were sentenced to jail in 2013 in connection with irregularities in the recruitment of junior teachers. In his brief address, Ajay Singh said he was happy to meet the INLD workers after long time. Ajay Singh, who is now out on parole from Tihar Jail, arrived at the rally site accompanied by brother Abhay Chautala and JD (U) leader K C Tyagi. They arrived in a helicopter from Delhi. “It was not a political event but birthday celebrations of Devi Lal,” claimed Praveen Atray, INLD spokesperson.
Hisar MP Dushyant Chautala, brother Digvijay Chautala and INLD state president Ashok Arora were among those who organised and managed the rally affairs.