Rising from the ashes like a Phoenix would be the apt aphorism to describe the performance of Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in the Haryana assembly elections. Orchestrating a grand political revival, the INLD has emerged as the surprise package, winning 31 of the 90 seats in the assembly on its own.
The INLD was down in the dumps with nine seats after the assembly elections in February 2005 and failed to win any seat in the Lok Sabha elections in May. In this election, no one gave the party an outside chance of getting anywhere close to the double digit mark. But the INLD proved its detractors horribly wrong by scripting an incredible performance. The win will also breathe new life into the rank and file of the party.
The icing on the cake for the party has been the twin wins for INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala from Uchana Kalan and Ellenabad and an impressive victory for his elder son, Ajay Singh from Dabwali.
The party swept the politically critical Jind district, winning all five seats and wrapping up four of the five seats in Sirsa district.
An ecstatic Chautala did not waste any time announcing that his outfit and other non-Congress parties would jointly stake claim to form the next government. “If all the Opposition parties and Independents come together, we will have the required numbers to form the government,” Chautala told presspersons here on Thursday.
He said the INLD was in touch with all non-Congress parties and Independents and would soon approach the Governor to stake their claim. “People have given the Opposition the mandate to rule the state and not to sit in the Opposition this time. The Congress has lost the moral authority to form the government.”
The debacle in the Lok Sabha elections saw the INLD losing all the seats it contested. It also witnessed desertions by a string of top leaders such as Sampat Singh, Kailasho Saini and Sushil Kumar Indora. Then came the parting of ways with the BJP just before the assembly polls. After all this, the INLD was written off and looked set to fade into oblivion. Its cadre looked demoralised and its leaders perplexed.
So what brought about the turnaround? Poll pundits said the INLD’s comprehensive win in the Jat heartland of Jind and impressive victories in the Sirsa, Kaithal and Bhiwani districts indicated a shift of Jat votes from the Congress to the INLD.
Along with this was the early launch of the campaign, a skillfully managed poll and media campaign piloted by Chautala’s younger son, Abhey Singh and its now-or-never attitude.
To a certain extent the INLD has also benefited from the faulty distribution of tickets by the Congress and its own very fair allocation of party nominations based solely on merit.