Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) president Om Prakash Chautala, who continues to be on the campaign trail despite being on medical bail in a corruption case, sought to play the culture card against chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Tuesday, accusing him of patronising “club culture” in Haryana politics and “consuming alcohol”.
At a rally in Karnal, Chautala said Hooda had ignored the interests of the state and “indulged in partying while thousands of farmers committed suicide due to poor policies of the Congress government”.
He claimed, “Once when I was CM, I reached Karnal from an unscheduled road to attend a function hosted by the then governor. The road between Yamunanagar and Karnal was pathetic, so it was re-laid within 15 days. It happened because I travelled by road. But the present CM uses only helicopter.”
And then he fired the salvo: “The official chopper of the CM (Hooda) is used only till 5pm. Uske baad ye sab daru peete hain (After that, they all drink alcohol). He (Hooda) has promoted club culture in the state.”
Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Chautala is currently out of Tihar Jail where he was lodged along with his son Ajay Singh Chautala and others in a teacher recruitment scam from 1999-2000. Out on “medical grounds”, he has travelled vigorously, addressing rallies in segments in Sonepat, Karnal, Yamunanagar and Kurukshetra on Tuesday as well.
Bail and ‘jailbreak’
Brazen in the face of the controversy ignited by his alleged misuse of bail, he said, “While in jail, I had promised to participate in election canvassing even if I had to commit jailbreak. Now, when I have fulfilled my promise, you (supporters) must also ensure INLD’s victory.”
Chautala alleged that a political-bureaucrat nexus had siphoned off Rs 10,000 crore released for rural development. “Hooda indulged in a multi-crore scam in change of land use (CLU) and other similar cases, and I dare Hooda to file a defamation case against me if the charges are baseless, as claimed by him,” he said.
Taking jibes at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been seeking clear majority for the BJP, Chautala said” “I am thankful to the PM as whichever place he has visited and leveled false allegations, my party’s popularity graph has gone up. I urge him (Modi) to visit other parts of the state to help boost the morale of INLD workers.”
In their recent speeches, Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have been targeting Chautala and his party for “patronising lawlessness, dynastic politics and casteism”. The top BJP leadership has also been hitting out at Chautala’s remarks that he would take oath as CM from Tihar Jail.
Devi Lal and Ram
Chautala equated his father, the late Devi Lal, with Lord Ram, claiming that Devi Lal had declined the post of prime minister in 1989 and asked VP Singh to come forward instead. “I am taking forward my father’s legacy against casteism,” he claimed. On Modi’s remark that Chautala was misusing a photograph taken with him (Modi), Chautala sarcastically said, “Mere chehere pe chamak PM se zyada hai; aur mujhe kisi aur ki photo ki zarurat nahi hai (My face has more glow than the PM’s; I don’t need to use anyone else’s photo).”
At a rally in Kharkhadda in Rohtak, too, he rebutted Modi’s statement that the BJP “does not require support of Tihar-wallahs”, saying: “Our party too does not need Modi’s support as we follow Devi Lal.”
Chautala said that if voted to power, he would give jobs to all 3.25 lakh unemployed youth and assured them “saat peedhi ki aish”, or luxury for seven generations. He did not elaborate, though.
In Kurukshetra, where Chautala took on Modi a day after the PM had addressed a rally there, INLD state chief Ashok Arora said Chautala had been “a victim of conspiracy” and he would soon be with the masses as they had full faith in the judiciary. (With HTC inputs from Rohtak and Kurukshetra)