BJP leader Subhash Barala, whose son is accused of stalking the daughter of an IAS officer, has enjoyed a meteoric political rise in recent years. After BJP won the 2014 Haryana Assembly polls, Barala, who belongs to the Jat community and is a first time MLA, was handed the plum post of BJP state president to balance out the appointment of a non-Jat as Chief Minister.
Subhash Barala (49) was in fact became the first Jat to be appointed head of the state unit of the BJP. Two other Jat leaders — Captain Abhimanyu and Om Prakash Dhankar — occupy prominent positions in CM Manohar Lal Khattar’s Cabinet. Before this assignment, Barala had also headed the youth and farmers’ wing of the BJP in Haryana.
A leader who prefers to keep a low profile, Barala was never at the centre of any controversy before the incident involving his son hit headlines.
In the inner circles of the state BJP, however, he is known as a close confidant of CM Khattar. The CM’s “alliance” with Barala is known to have helped him weather internal storms and stave off rivals within the party. This, more than a desire to keep Jats on the BJP’s side, is the reason why Khattar came out strongly in his defense.
“It’s the Chief Minister who is shielding Barala in this case,” says Abhay Singh Chautala, Leader of Opposition in the Haryana Assembly. “We feel that the officers were pressurised in this case. That’s why the bail was given to the accused at the police station instead of court. If necessary, we will meet Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to seek his intervention in the matter,” the leader of the INLD said.
The Jat community, meanwhile, is fuming that the BJP is being protective of Barala, because the victim, Varnika Kundu, is also a Jat. The Jats of Kundu gotra belong to a prominent khap in Haryana.
On Tuesday, members of the Kundu khap blocked the Rohtak-Jind National Highway in Rohtak district demanding Barala’s resignation. “We just want that guilty in this case should not be spared,” said Rajesh Kundu, member of Kundu khap in Hisar district.
With the Jats already alienated from the BJP over the reservation issue, Barala’s stock in his community was already low. But government insiders point out his importance in the Khattar government. They recall how Barala played a significant role in the surrender of self-styled godman Sant Rampal in 2014.
“I along with Barala had held meetings with Rampal’s brothers to convinance them that it would be appropriate for him to surrender before the police,” said Jai Prakash, an MLA and former Union minister.
In his poll affidavit filed for the 2014 Assembly polls, Barala, who belongs to a farming family, had stated that he is owner of 14 acre of land with an estimated cost of Rs 4.38 crore. The total worth of his assets was shown Rs 4.96 crore, while he declared liabilities worth Rs 4.92 lakh. In 1987, according to the affidavit, Barala had done diploma in civil engineering from HMS Polytechnic, Tumkur in Karnataka.