As the CBI court in Delhi announced 10 years' jail as the quantum of the sentence for former chief minister OP Chautala and his MLA son Ajay Singh, who were convicted last week in the JBT teacher recruitment scam, reactions flew in from across the political spectrum.
While the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) hailed it, the Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) put up a brace face, reiterating its vow to fight against what it termed "injustice".
Senior Congress leader and Haryana's parliamentary affairs minister Randeep Singh Surjewala said the CBI court verdict, "which was thorough and comprehensive", had proven that the law was above all. "It's a lesson for all politicians, bureaucrats and bigwigs, besides Chautalas, that the long arms of law would reach them.
About the standing of the three convicted MLAs - the Chautala duo and another INLD leader Shamsher Singh Badshami -- Surjewala said, "According to law, they could be disqualified from the assembly if they they fail to get the CBI court sentence stayed by a higher court in the next three months. However, the fate of the two IAS officers who have been jailed too would be decided under the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) Rules'', he said.
He bemoaned the protest by the INLD workers at the New Delhi court complex. "If anyone would try such a protest in Haryana, the law would handle them aptly."
Every CM does it: BJP
The BJP's state unit president Ram Bilas Sharma and party leader in assembly Anil Vij also termed the decision as historic and a lesson for all. "One should respect the judiciary and should not resort to protests. If the INLD leaders are not satisfied with the CBI court, they should move a higher court," Sharma said.
Vij, however, launched a scathing attack on the Congress and said that one could see a large number of such recruitments in the current Congress rule too. "All chief ministers do this kind of recruitments. When a CM comes from Hisar, he favours his people, a CM from Sirsa does it for people of his area, and now CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda is also doing it!" Vij also termed the CBI as "Congress Bureau of Investigation".
Cong is next: HJC
Former Congressman and now HJC leader Kuldeep Bishnoi said the verdict had increased the common man's faith in judiciary. "With this sentence, the shop of the Chautalas has been shut, and now it is the turn of Congress as a dozen of its MLAs and former ministers are named in criminal cases."
"The recruitment scam has brought out in open the real face of Chautala family, though the fall of the INLD was evident in the defeat of Ajay Chautala in the Hisar Lok Sabha poll," said Bishnoi, who defeated Ajay in Hisar.
We'll fight till the end: INLD
The INLD's Haryana unit president Ashok Arora reacted sharply against the CBI verdict. "We are confident of getting justice in the high court," he said and rubbished questions about the protests by INLD workers in Delhi, saying, "There was nothing of that sort."
"Everyone in Haryana knows that the Congress government has been selling government jobs. On the other hand, there has not been even a single complaint against Chautalas and INLD leaders," he claimed.