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Sunday, December 08, 2019

Haryana: Chautala clan scores 5 of 7— INLD big loser

Barring Abhay Singh Chautala retaining his seat in Sirsa district, over 80 candidates of the party had to bite the dust. Days before the October 21 polls, the INLD had stitched up an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), but failed to win any of the three seats it contested.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Published: October 25, 2019 9:48:29 am
 Haryana Chautala village, Haryana election result, INLD Chautala village, Dushyant Chautala, Dushyant Chautala village, Indian Express news Dushyant Chautala thanks voters at Uchana Kalan on Friday. (Express photo by Jasbir Malhi)

“This village is like a mini Assembly of Haryana,” said Mandroop, an 87-year-old resident of Chautala village, on Thursday, as five candidates who hail from here and represent different parties won in the Assembly elections.

While two of them belong to JJP, one each was elected on the symbol of INLD and Congress. One candidate was elected as an independent.

Chautala village, which has given Haryana two chief ministers (Chaudhary Devi Lal and his son Om Parkash Chautala) and a former deputy prime minister (Devi Lal) falls under Dabwali constituency. Today, it has a grain market, good roads, a stadium and schools. Known as a village of landlords, it has many bungalows apart from those belonging to the family.

Among the winners is Amit Sihag, the Congress candidate who won from Dabwali, whose father Dr K V Singh is the uncle of Ajay and Abhay Chautala. Amit defeated his cousin Aditya Devi Lal — grandson of Devi Lal and son of Jagdish Chautala, Om Parkash Chautala’s brother — of BJP by a margin of 15,647 votes. The cousins are next-door neighbours in the village. “Though Amitji now lives in Dabwali, he visits the village frequently,” said Bajrang Lal, Sihag’s personal assistant.

Another native is Abhay Chautala, general secretary of INLD, who scored a hattrick from his traditional Ellenabad Assembly seat, beating Pawan Beniwal of the BJP. He is the lone INLD candidate to have won a seat. Abhay too is the grandson of Devi Lal and younger son of former Haryana chief minister Om Parkash Chautala.

However, the polls dealt a severe blow to the INLD, which was founded by Devi Lal, which slumped to its worst performance ever on Thursday.

Barring Abhay Singh Chautala retaining his seat in Sirsa district, over 80 candidates of the party had to bite the dust. Days before the October 21 polls, the INLD had stitched up an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), but failed to win any of the three seats it contested.

Dushyant Chautala — great grandson of Devi Lal and elder son of jailed leader Ajay Singh Chautala — who floated the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) following a feud in the family last year, defeated BJP’s Prem Lata, the wife of former Union minister Birender Singh, from Uchana Kalan by a margin of 47,452 votes. Dushyant’s mother Naina Chautala won from Badhra constituency on a JJP ticket.

Ranjit Singh, the son of Chaudhary Devi Lal, is the fifth MLA who belongs to this village. He was denied a party ticket by Congress, so he contested as an Independent from Rania and won by over 33,000 votes.

“Chaudhary Devi Lal had four sons — Om Parkash, Partap, Jagdish and Ranjit. Partap and Jagdish passed away. This family is spread across various parties. Hence we always have an advantage of having MLAs from different parties,” said villager Mandroop.

Dr Sita Ram was the seventh candidate of Chautala village who contested from Dabwali on an INLD ticket. He too is from the Chautala clan, said villagers. However, he secured only 8,825 votes and his security deposit was forfeited.

Despite the five victories, none of the winners visited the village on Thursday. Only party workers of JJP and Congress organised a few celebrations in the village. While Aditya preferred to stay indoors after the results were announced, Sihag took out a road show in Dabwali and plans to visit the village on Friday. “Chautala village is special to me,” he said.

The village has around 14,000 voters. “All candidates/ winners have their houses in this village. While Aditya stays here, the others come frequently. Let’s see which party forms government, otherwise it is easy for villagers to approach all of them,” said Gurbad, a local resident.

“Their surname is Sihag, but they have always used the village name and hence even the village became popular after getting so many politicians,” said Duli Chand, an INLD worker sitting inside his party office in the main market of village.

“While all started from INLD, many of the Chautala clan’s members are now part of different parties including JJP, Congress and BJP,” said Ravinder Sen, a villager close to Aditya Devi Lal. “A few of the villagers who were close to the Chautalas were also given a chance by INLD to contest. Hence this is a village of politicians,” said Gurbad.

Sitting in the ancestral house of Chaudhary Devi Lal, Ravinder said, “The adjacent houses of Chautala family members were built later on. But earlier, the entire family used to live in this house, when everyone used to work for INLD.”

Meanwhile, a lone flag flutters above the locked house of Om Parkash Chautala. “No one lives in this house, the family lives in Teja Khera farmhouse located about 8 km away,” said Mandroop, adding, “Their family members are scattered in different parties. They could have easily won and formed a government, had they been united.”

The house of Jitendra Chautala, son of late Partap Chautala (son of Devi Lal) is located opposite to Aditya’s house. Jitendra never entered politics, but supported the INLD. Party posters were seen pasted outside his home.

A huge bungalow, painted white, belonging to Pardeep Sihag, another grandson of Devi Lal, is also in the same lane. Pardeep had once joined BSP. Ranjit, Om Parkash Chautala’s brother, who won from Rania as an Independent, also has a house in the village.

While the village is known for its modernity, Vinod, a JJP worker, said, “Many villagers have shifted base to Sirsa city or Chandigarh for a better future for their children. They come to the village once in a while.”

“Union is strength. I wish the family had understood this basic principle, now everyone is fighting for their own existence. Let’s see what is in their fate,” said another villager, who refused to be identified, saying, “I have to live in the same village.”

“There were hardly any flags or posters in this village supporting any particular party as no one wanted to annoy any of the Chautalas,” he added.\

(With PTI inputs)

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