INLD crisis may alter political equations


Similar to the haze that engulfs the National Capital Region due to sudden spike in pollution levels, the political horizon in Haryana too presents a vague picture with deepening crisis in the Indian National Lok Dal over the past few weeks.

What began as unruly scenes and hooliganism during the speech of INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala, a former Haryana Chief Minister, and his son Abhay Chautala during the birth anniversary celebrations of Chaudhary Devi Lal at Gohana a month ago, culminated in the expulsion of Hisar Lok Sabha MP Dushyant Chautala and his younger brother Digvijay, sons of Mr. Om Prakash Chautala’s elder son Ajay Singh Chautala, last week.

Though political analysts differ on how the INLD and BSP alliance, forged earlier this year, would have fared in the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections had the power struggle among the Chautalas not hit the party, they see eye to eye over the premise that the Congress would benefit the most from the recent developments.

“Before the INLD crisis, the State seemed to be caught in a three-cornered electoral fight and a hung Assembly was a possibility. But as of today it seems there would be a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress. The Jats — divided between the INLD and the Congress earlier — might now consolidate behind the latter to keep the BJP out of power,” said former Haryana Agricultural University professor-turned-political analyst Ram Kanwar.

He added that with the Dushyant camp likely to announce a new outfit soon, the Chautalas would be mostly contesting among themselves for the legacy of Chaudhary Devi Lal.

However, the political situation being volatile, the likelihood of more permutations and combinations cannot be ruled out. Sources in the INLD also hinted at a possible tie-up between the Dushyant camp and a BJP MP in south Haryana.

Mr. Dushyant and Mr. Digvijay, who headed the INLD’s students’ wing, enjoy support of the youth for being “articulate”, “soft-spoken” and “educated” and their ouster will certainly erode the party’s base among the new-generation voters, but Mr. Om Prakash Chautala, in a calculated move, has sided with Mr. Abhay, who is considered to be more popular among the party’s traditional voters.

Though the discord among the Chautalas came to the fore a month ago, it had begun soon after the Lok Sabha elections when Mr. Dushyant decided to contest the Assembly elections from Hisar, posing a threat to his uncle Mr. Abhay.

Mr. Kanwar said that the INLD was being run by the Chautalas as a “family concern” and the struggle for succession was bound to happen after the party supremo was convicted, as “property can be shared, but not power”.

“Just as Mr. Om Prakash Chautala’s brother Ranjit Chautala was rendered politically insignificant after the former became the Chief Minister, both the camps know that it is a battle of survival for them,” said Mr. Kanwar.

INLD spokesperson Praveen Atri, however, said the party’s workers stood firmly behind Mr. Om Prakash Chautala’s decision.

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