Out on interim bail on medical grounds, the former Haryana chief minister and Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala was on Thursday seen helping his party cementing ground in the state for the forthcoming assembly elections.
Serving 10-year jail term in connection with the JBT teacher recruitment scam, Chautala was seen addressing a "rally" in Jind district in Haryana and making political statements, outpouring his ambition of becoming "chief minister yet again" and "taking oath this time from inside Tihar jail" where he has been lodged for 20 months now.
On January 22 last year a special CBI court had convicted and sentenced Om Prakash Chautala, his son Ajay to 10 years jail term each for illegally recruiting 3,206 junior teachers in the year 2000 and prohibiting the duo from contesting elections.
Chautala made public appearance a day before his extended bail term is coming to end on Friday.
Chautala, who shared the dais with former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal and former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, however claimed that the event was not a political one and was organized to pay homage to his father and former deputy prime minster Devi Lal on his birth centenary. He has been undergoing treatment in a private hospital in Gurgaon for couple of months.
When contacted on phone, Chautala set aside the claim that Jind event was a political one. He told HT, “It was not a political event but 100th birth anniversary of his father. I know that I am on bail on medical grounds but I flew to Jind in an air ambulance along with two doctors. I also had the written permission from the hospital for the same.”
When asked whether he had the requisite permission from the court to address rally, Chautala said that there was no legal hassle on this.
On the other hand the opposition political leaders took a dig on his public appearance.
Dr Shakeel Ahmed, the general secretary All India Congress Committee (AICC) and in-charge of Haryana affairs said that it was not up to anyone to comment on the development as it was in the public domain and everyone saw it. “It’s now up to the court to take cognizance of the development,” he added.
Yogendra Yadav of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that has refrained from contesting elections in Haryana this time, and claims to be acting as a watchdog in the state, said, "This seem like a rather unusual event. While I am not an expert in law, this does appear to be a clear violation of law. We would certainly take up the issue to the relevant authorities, which in this case seem like the court.”
On June 3, the Delhi High Court had granted three weeks' interim bail to former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala to perform the last rites of his younger brother, Pratap Singh Chautala, who died on June 1.
Subsequently, before the bail period ended, Chautala moved the HC seeking extension of his bail on the ground that he was currently admitted in the ICU of Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon due to bad health.
Considering the report submitted by a Gurgaon-based hospital that he was undergoing treatment as an indoor patient, the HC has been extending the interim bail on a regular basis. On September 19, the HC had extended his bail till September 26.