TEN MONTHS old with ten seats in Vidhan Sabha, a 31-year-old as its leader and a strategy of involving both the new and the seasoned; this is the basic profile of the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), which has emerged as the kingmaker in the Haryana Assembly elections.
Dushyant Chautala, who won from Uchana Kalan by a wide margin of over 40,000 votes, is a business graduate from California State University and also studied at NLU. The great-grandson of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal, who became an MP at the age of 26, has around 8 lakh followers on Facebook and over a lakh followers on Twitter. Party officials say the average age of their supporter is 38, and the average age of their candidate in Vidhan Sabha is 40 years.
Dushyant’s core team however, is a mix of the young and old. Party members say this team works on the principle of taking experience from seniors and fielding youngsters. Meet the team that was working behind the scenes to propel this new party to the frontline this election:
Dr K C Bangar (Age: 65, Qualification: Ph.D)
Dr K C Bangar, who has a doctorate in philosophy, is the national secretary of the JJP. He had twice contested elections from Gohana on an INLD ticket but lost. He was chairman of the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) when Om Parkash Chautala was the chief minister. He also worked as national spokesperson of the INLD, but had resigned from the party in November 2018 when Ajay Chautala was expelled from it. Dr Bangar chose to go with Dushyant after resigning from INLD and is considered the “think tank” of the party. He has the rich experience of working with senior Chautala in JJP. He was instrumental in policy framing in the JJP’s manifesto and was present at the launch.
Jasbir Singh Beniwal (Age: 46, Qualification: MBA, LLM)
Jasbir Singh Beniwal is a commercial pilot who worked as an honorary pilot for Government of India for 75 hours. He was instrumental in forging the JJP-AAP alliance during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Haryana. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “I work on no designation in the party but yes I do handle the election campaign and give suggestions to the party and even Dushyant from time to time.” He further said, “I used to paste posters of Ajay Chautalaji in 1993 in Nauhar constituency when he contested elections. I was 20 at that time. That is how I started working with the party. I remained connected with Ajayji since then and now I am with his son Dushyant.” He still flies, but as a hobby.
Nishan Singh (Age: 63 years, Qualification: Class V pass)
Nishan Singh, the state president of JJP, is an ex-MLA of Tohana. He resurrected his political career after leaving the INLD and joining Dushyant after the latter formed JJP.
Nishan vacated his seat this time for young JJP candidate Devinder Babli, who defeated BJP’s state president Subash Barala. “The party works on the principle of giving way to youngsters and taking experience from seniors. JJP campaigned with this formula this time,” said Nishan’s supporter.
Nishan remained as chief of the ‘kisan cell’ in INLD’s tenure and hence has a strong grip on farmer issues. Being a Kamboj Sikh, he worked primarily in the Punjabi-dominated areas of Haryana, seeking votes.
Digvijay Chautala (Age: 28, Qualification: 10+2)
Digvijay, Dushyant’s younger brother, is the national chief of the Indian National Student organisation (INSO) — the student cell of JJP. Digvijay is known for his aggressive speeches on public issues. In this campaign, he focused enrolling college students, first-time voters.
Nitin Sherawat (Age: 30, Qualification: B.Tech, MBA)
Nitin Sherawat handles social media for Dushyant and the JJP. According to Sherawat that there are over 50 Facebook pages on Dushyant…including ‘Dushyant ka Dewaana’, ‘Mukhyamantri Dushyant Chautala’, ‘Dushyant ke fan’ etc. “On October 19 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at a rally in Hisar, a total of 4.55 lakh people watched his rally during a Facebook Live session. On the same day, Dushyant had a rally in Dadri, which was watched by 7.56 lakh people, which shows the popularity of this leader. Over 50 persons are actively involved in handling Dushyant’s social media, while 120 members are handling Twitter. Youths form the majority of the crowd attending our rallies,” he said.
Abhai Maurya (Age: 60, Qualification: PhD)
Abhai Maurya is an author and former vice-chancellor of the Central University of English and Foreign languages, Hyderabad. He is described as the chief of the manifesto committee. He had made a public appearance when JJP’s manifesto was released. Maurya belongs to a Rohtak village. The manifesto mentioned goals for youths, women and senior citizens separately, emphasising that the party plans to cater to all age groups.