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Friday, December 06, 2019

In Dushyant, elders see image of Devi Lal, the youth a kingmaker

Dushyant says he learnt the importance of education from Devi Lal. A boarder at Sanawar in Himachal Pradesh, Dushyant remembers returning home on vacation to just one question from his great-grandfather: “How much have you learnt?”

Written by Manraj Grewal Sharma | Chandigarh | Published: October 27, 2019 4:02:46 am
JJP workers welcome Dushyant Chautala at the party office in Chandigarh on Saturday. Jaipal Singh

Dushyant Chautala was 11 when his great-grandfather Chaudhary Devi Lal, former Deputy Prime Minister, two-time Haryana chief minister and arguably the tallest Jat leader from the state, passed away. At Umarvas village in Sirsa, Preetam Chahar, a farmer, says, “In their family, it’s in Dushyant that our elders see the chhavi
(image) of Devi Lal.” The family says 6-foot-4-inch Dushyant gets his height from his great-grandfather.

Dushyant says he learnt the importance of education from Devi Lal. A boarder at Sanawar in Himachal Pradesh, Dushyant remembers returning home on vacation to just one question from his great-grandfather: “How much have you learnt?”

He went on to pursue a degree in business management from California State University followed by law studies at National Law University.

The Indian Express first encountered him on the campaign trail of his grandfather Om Prakash Chautala in 2004. Dressed in a white kurta pyjama, the chubby youngster, who was treated to tall glasses of milk in village after village, listened keenly to his grandfather spewing venom at the Congress.

It was Chautala who expelled him from the party after a raucous crowd started chanting pro-Dushyant slogans at a rally in Devi Lal’s memory in November 2018 and refused to heed him.

The expulsion came four years after Dushyant became the youngest MP in the Lok Sabha at the age of 26 in 2014. He achieved this feat, which earned him a place in the Limca Book of Records, by defeating another dynast, Kuldeep Bishnoi, the son of former CM Bhajan Lal, in Hisar.

With his father Ajay Chautala in jail in a JBT teachers recruitment scam, Dushyant began dividing his time between the countryside of Haryana and Delhi, where he created ripples by driving his tractor to Parliament — more recently, he chose a tractor to drive to the voting booth on October 21.

He also distinguished himself by taking part in two dozen debates, and tabling two Bills in the first year itself, clocking an attendance of 89 per cent. Friends say he was appalled at the number of absentee MPs.

His younger brother Digvijay, whom he fielded from Jind in the January bypolls, jokingly calls him a buddha (old man) as his favourite actor is Dharmendra and the Sholay song Yeh dosti ham nahin chodenge his all-time favourite track.

While in Parliament, Dushyant also began taking a keen interest in INSO — the INLD’s student body floated by his father. In the student politics of the state capital Chandigarh, he came to be known as the kingmaker, and a king who was generous with students and commanded their loyalty.

Fluent in both Haryanvi and English, he is at home with villagers in their rustic lingo and setting. “He doesn’t behave like a politician, he is very calm and gentle. And he has a knack for connecting with everyone regardless of their age,” says Gourav Duhan, who contested as INSO candidate from Panjab University this year.

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