After languishing in Tihar jail for 20 months following his sentencing by a CBI court in JBT teachers recruitment scam, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) supremo Om Prakash Chautala on Thursday maintained that he was innocent and exhorted party supporters to work hard for ensuring his ascendancy as the next chief minister of Haryana.
The former chief minister who is out on a medical bail since June 23 surprised many by attending a rally in Jind on Thursday to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of his father, Chaudhary Devi Lal. Chautala was flown from Gurgaon’s Medanta Medi-city hospital in an air ambulance and was accompanied by a team of doctors. Since his bail ends on September 26, the former chief minister will again approach the Delhi high court on Friday for an extension.
“I will take oath for the chief minister’s post from Tihar jail if you get the party majority in ensuing assembly polls,” said the former chief minister who spoke for about 30 minutes.
Sharpening his attack on the ruling Congress, Chautala (80), who was addressing party supporters at a function on the 100th birth anniversary of his father and former deputy prime minister Devi Lal here, said his rivals had bad mouthed about him.
“They had claimed that Chautala would not be able to contest election owing to his conviction by court, but if former Faridabad MP Avtar Singh Bhadana can remain a minister in government for six months without being elected, I too can be installed to the coveted post,” the INLD supremo added.
“Later, I may ask my son or grandson, who would contest election, to vacate the seat for me to fulfil the required criteria,” said Chautala, whose elder son Ajay Singh Chautala was also convicted along with 53 others in the same case.
Chautala said he does not fear jail as he was born amid hardships and his father Devi Lal was in jail at that time. “But I preserve concern for the progress of commoners and development of Haryana.”
“If giving jobs to 3,000 unemployed youths was a crime, then this time I would give jobs to another 3 lakh youths if INLD comes to power in the state,” said Chautala, who was accompanied by several national-level political leaders.
Wooing warring wannabe MLAs, he urged them to sink differences if some of them feel disillusioned over denial of tickets. They can be placated with positions in government, which are more powerful than an MLA.
Invoking mythological characters Pandavas, Chautala said like they banished the Kuru dynasty after being wrongly punished, the INLD supporters should work hard to root out the Congress government.