OP Chautala is our biggest card for Haryana polls: Dushyant

INLD leader Dushyant Chautala rubbishes allegations of playing dynastic politics; says BJP, Congress conceded defeat much before Haryana votes on October 15

deevakar

Deevakar Anand | October 14, 2014


Dushyant Chautala campaigning at Uchana Kalan in Jind from where he is fighting the election.
Dushyant Chautala campaigning at Uchana Kalan in Jind from where he is fighting the election.

All of 26, Dushyant Chautala, the great-grandson of former deputy prime minister Choudhary Devi Lal and grandson of former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, is the youngest MP in the current lok sabha.

Dushyant is spearheading the campaign to revive the fate of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in the Haryana assembly election slated for October 15 [results would be out by the time you read this in the magazine] even as the party has been out of power for 10 years and its leader, Om Prakash Chautala, convicted and jailed over corruption charges in the junior basic teachers’ recruitment scam.

An alumni of The Lawrence School, Sanawar, and a graduate from California State University, Dushyant says he put his plan to study further on hold in January 2013 when his grandfather was jailed. From there on, he has been out on extensive campaigns, soliciting support for his family and party. And with Chautala (he was out on bail when we met Dushyant, and was sent back to jail on October 11) still serving his 10-year imprisonment, the buzz is that Dushyant will become the chief minister if INLD comes to power.

Starting at 8 am sharp every day, the Chautala scion tries to cover as much political ground as canvassing kilometres in Haryana. Deevakar Anand accompanied him on one such day-long trip in his customised green – INLD’s trademark colour – SUV, a Toyota Fortuner, to guage his views as also his political base in Jind.

Edited excerpts from the interview conducted in the first week of October:

Your party has been out of power for 10 years and your party chief is serving jail sentence for corruption. In that context, what chances do you see for your party in this election?
I am pretty confident that we will form the government with full majority.

And what gives you that confidence?
The support of the people. I have been to approximately 55 (of the 90) assembly constituencies so far and I felt we are not in a weak position even in a single place.

What is your main election card or plank?
Choudhary Om Prakash Chautala is our biggest card. He knows people by name in all the approximately 6,400 villages in the state. People all around the state support him, and they are missing him. Once he came out and spoke for 17 minutes at the rally in Jind on September 25, it was for all to see how lakhs thronged to support him. Once he is out of jail, which we are sure he will be since an appeal is pending in high court against his conviction, he is going to have the undisputed support of people of Haryana.

What happens if Om Prakash Chautala doesn’t get relief from HC?
Even if he doesn’t get any relief, no law stops him from becoming the CM.

But that can be possible only for six months. After that he will need to be elected as an MLA.
The party will take a collective call on such things at a later stage.

At the Jind rally, Om Prakash Chautala said he didn’t regret being jailed for giving 3,000 (JBT) jobs to Jats. He also said that given a chance he would give 3 lakh more such jobs. Don’t you think that is an extraconstitutional assertion?
We always say the Congress and the CBI were ‘one hand’ during the UPA regime.

Are you implying that the court judgment was managed?
I cannot comment on that. But I say that CBI was fully managed. Nobody from Om Prakash Chautala’s family or village got a job (as part of contentious drive). If somebody has given him money and that has been probed and established, then he is at fault. Ten years of imprisonment has been handed out to him just for giving jobs? Lalu Prasad Yadavji has a corruption charge of '700 crore. He got four years imprisonment. Jayalalithaa stands accused of much higher corruption and she has been jailed for four years.

But the 10-year imprisonment came after the due process of law.
All I can say is that there was a political conspiracy against Choudhary Om Prakash Chautala and he will come out clean.

What kind of precedent does it set when a former CM claims that he would take oath as chief minister from jail? Instead of making such statements from public forums, he could have waited until he got relief from higher courts.
See, I will repeat that you have to understand that during the UPA regime, the Congress and CBI were one and that he became a victim of a conspiracy. 

You are the youngest parliamentarian in the current Lok Sabha and you defeated Kuldeep Bishnoi, considered a heavyweight leader, from Hissar. Don’t you think people expect young politicians like you to have a fresh perspective and not play to the gallery as older politicians usually do?
If you are pinpointing at that particular statement that he (Om Prakash Chautala) made at the Jind rally, I don’t think he was at any fault. Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and BJP president Amit Shah must not have slept for a single night since that statement of Chautala-saab. Both have questioned (in press statements) the electorate if they would meet Chautala as CM in jail. That’s an indication that the BJP and Congress have already conceded their defeat in the next election. Chautala-saab has an exemplary vision for Haryana which is being plagued by the corruption of the Congress rule. Let me recall this one example: I remember in 2003, when I was 16, I accompanied him to Germany to the BMW headquarters where he signed a memorandum of understanding for BMW to set up a plant in Jhajjar. However, when Hooda came (to power), that project went to Tamil Nadu. 

Even though you defeated Kuldeep Bishnoi, you have filed nomination from Uchhana Kalan that has so far been held by OP Chautala. Also, the way you are spearheading the party’s campaign, it looks even you and your party know that OP Chautala can’t become the CM.
Chaudhary Om Prakash Chautala remains the first choice of the people of Haryana. As regards my role, it will be decided by the party when the time comes. As far as my active role in state politics is concerned, I first campaigned at the age of eight for Choudhary Devi Lal. Since 2004 I have been heading campaigns of my grandfather and father Ajay Chautala.

Isn’t it true that at a time when parties are talking development in their election pitches, INLD is trying to encash emotions and sympathy in the name of Om Prakash Chautala? For example, CM Hooda is citing the highest per capita income in Haryana and the BJP is talking about development.
INLD’s vision for Haryana is well stated. We have plans to work on generating employment, curbing corruption, securing the rights of farmers, improving sports infrastructure, especially in rural areas. On the question of the Congress and the BJP, let me underline that there are approximately 6,400 villages in Haryana. The present CM has not even visited all these villages in the 10 years of his rule. On the other hand, if you talk about the BJP, they don’t have any face or any candidate in the state who can connect with the people.

But it is the same BJP which INLD, till a few days ago, was trying hard to forge a pre-poll alliance with.
That is not true. Yes, we have said we support Modi in parliament, but when it comes to Haryana, the BJP is a faceless party. It doesn’t have a leader of stature in the state.

Political pundits say INLD and BJP will come together after the election results.
We believe the situation will not arise and we will get a majority on our own.

In case you don’t get the majority on your own, will you enter into an alliance with the BJP?
That’s a hypothetical question and I don’t believe that’s going to be the situation.

You are the fourth-generation INLD leader from the Devi Lal family. Critics would question this dynastic politics which has not allowed any other leader in the party to come to the forefront. It is also alleged that besides being a family member you lack credentials to lead the party or become the chief minister.
I consider myself fortunate to be born in Chaudhary Devi Lal’s family. I will always be grateful to my family for supporting me. If you ask who Dushyant Chautala is, (I would say) he is an educated young person committed to the service of people of Haryana and the country. For me, the most important job is to get education and employment opportunity for youth, work for farmers and women’s security.

Now even your mother, Naina Chautala, is a candidate from Dabwali.
She tells me that since she has taken ‘saat pheras’ with my father (Ajay Chautala) who is in jail (in the same recruitment scam), it’s her duty to take on the responsibilty in his absence.

But the fact remains that INLD begins from your great-grandfather and right now ends with you.
It was the demand of the people. It’s not about me being from a particular family. It’s about how well connected they feel with me. It is the people’s sentiments that if you be with them, they stand by you. I agree, being from a political family, I have a better understanding and support. But it doesn’t end there. I have been in my constituency meeting people. I have travelled more than 2 lakh kilometres in the last two-and-a-half years. And if I don’t come up to their expectations, they will not elect me again, as has happened with many leaders belonging to popular (political) families and clans.

INLD has supposedly been a party of higher castes, especially Jats, who form about 27 percent of votes in Haryana. It is difficult to form a government without the support of other sections. Is there a ‘social engineering’ strategy you are applying to garner support from them, especially dalits who constitute about 21 percent votes in Haryana?

I don’t buy the social engineering formula for winning elections. INLD promises good governance and has a great vision for Haryana’s development, and that is going to be the motivation for people to give us power.

(This interview appeared in magazine Volume 05, Issue 18, October 16-31, 2014 issue)

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