The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) Friday paved way for the launch of yet another member of the Chautala clan in the electoral politics, naming Arjun Chautala, the son of party secretary-general Abhay Chautala, as a candidate from Kurukshetra Lok Sabha constituency.
The party also announced names of two ex-servicemen, who too will make their electoral debut from the Rohtak and Bhiwani-Mahendragarh constituencies. With this, the INLD has announced candidates on nine of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana that goes to polls in the sixth phase on May 12. Of these, eight are debutants. The ninth is the lone party MP, Charanjeet Singh Rori, who has been renominated from Sirsa. The party is yet to name a candidate for Gurgaon parliamentary constituency.
Announcing the names, INLD state president Ashok Arora said all three candidates have studied till class 12. Arjun is the fourth generation of the Chautala clan to enter the electoral ring. His cousins Dushyant Singh Chautala and Digvijay Chautala — sons of Arjun’s uncle Ajay Singh Chautala — have contested elections.
Arjun’s debut on the big stage won’t be easy. The ruling BJP in the state has nominated party MLA Nayab Saini from Kurukshetra. The Congress and the JJP-AAP alliance are yet to name their candidates. In 2014, Raj Kumar Saini had won from Kurukshetra as BJP candidate. However, he quit the BJP last year and formed a separate political outfit – Loktantra Suraksha Party. The LSP is contesting the General Elections in Haryana in alliance with the BSP but Saini is not in the fray.
Arjun, who at 26 is the youngest candidate fielded by the INLD, completed his 10+2 from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla. He then moved to the USA to pursue a Bachelors degree in fine arts in the United States of America. However, in 2013, when his grandfather and INLD patriarch Om Prakash Chautala and uncle Ajay Chautala were convicted on charges of corruption in the JBT teachers’ scam, Arjun decided to return home.
“Since the family situation demanded my presence here, I left studies and returned home. I tried pursuing a degree in law here but could not complete it too as the family and people of Haryana needed me. I also had to look after family’s business. Thus I left studies and started serving people,” Arjun told The Indian Express.
Asked about the feud within the Chautala clan that saw his uncle’s family being expelled from the INLD – Ajay with sons Dushyant and Digvijay later formed the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) – Arjun said that “at this stage, I am not concerned what happened within the family”. He said his priority was to raise issues of people of Haryana. “I understand the issues that concern farmers, elderly and the youth. I am going to raise all these issues during my campaign. I believe that education is one of the most important areas in which a lot needs to be done in Haryana. It will be my top priority”.
The INLD has nominated ex-serviceman Balwan Singh, 38, for Bhiwani-Mahendragarh constituency. Balwan Singh, who had taken voluntary retirement from Army, runs a security agency. “My agency provides security guards to various private companies in Gurgaon, Punjab, Rajasthan and other parts of the region,” Balwan Singh said, adding that “although I never contested any polls, my brother had been a sarpanch”.
Balwan Singh is pitted against former Chief Minister Bansi Lal’s granddaughter Shruti Choudhry of Congress and sitting MP Dharambir Singh of BJP. The JJP has fielded Swati Yadav, another debutante and daughter of Satyavir Yadav, party’s Narnaul district president. “When a jawan hits the ground, he does not look at his competitors. His sole focus is on the target. I am sure, I will emerge victoriously,” Balwan Singh said.
Another ex-serviceman, Dharambir Singh, is the party nominee for Rohtak. “I was a signalman in Signal Corps of the Army. But, due to an injury, I had to opt out. I own two acres of land and belong to a family of farmers. I joined INLD when Tau Devi Lal was still there and I also got immense love from Chaudhary Om Prakash Chautala. I believe that corruption is a major issue in the prevailing system of our country. I will try my best to serve people of my constituency and raise their issues,” Dharambir Singh said.
While JJP has nominated Pradeep Deswal, the party’s student wing chief, BJP has named three-term MP Arvind Sharma. Congress hasn’t named its candidate. The INLD had Wednesday named six candidates that include a crusher owner, two from the construction business, a Khap pradhan, and a retired paper mill employee.