All parties invoking Devi Lal’s legacy in Haryana’s Dabwali assembly constituency
Nominees of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and its breakaway outfit Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) are seeking votes in the name of the late towering leader, Devi Lal of Haryana.Updated: Oct 15, 2019, 15:33 IST
In a multi-cornered contest in the politically significant assembly seat of Dabwali, three candidates have one thing in common — their reliance on the legacy of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal when it comes to woo the voters.
Nominees of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and its breakaway outfit Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) are seeking votes in the name of the late towering leader of Haryana.
Whereas the Congress nominee Amit Sihag, who also belongs to the Devi Lal clan was avoiding mentioning the name of former deputy PM during electioneering.
Sihag’s father Dr KV Singh is uncle of Ajay and Abhay Chautala. Sharing its border with Punjab, Dabwali is a Sikh-dominated constituency. It is a political bastion of the Chautala clan whose native Chautala village also falls in this segment.
In 2014, Naina Chautala, wife of Ajay Chautala, was elected from here on the INLD ticket, but she shifted her loyalty after Ajay Chautala formed JJP. However, she is contesting from Bhadra segment this time.
Three main contestants in Dabwali — BJP’s Aditya Devi Lal, JJP’s Sarvjit Singh Masitan and Congress’ Amit Sihag are contesting assembly elections for the first time. The INLD-Shiromani Akali Dal alliance has fielded Dr Sita Ram, 51, an influential Dalit leader of the district, who was elected in 2000 and 2005 from Dabwali, which was then reserved for scheduled castes (SC). INLD hopes to garner Sikh votes with the support of the SAD.
Addressing a gathering under a banyan tree at Sukhera Khera village, Ram said his candidature from an unreserved seat was the outcome of Devi Lal’s ideology of social empowerment.
“Earlier, people voted my father Ch Mani Ram thrice from Dabwali. It is time to discard the BJP for its policies against the interests of farmers, traders and poor. Devi Lal was a votary of empowerment of socially and economically marginalised sections. INLD is the only party that adheres to his ideology,” said Ram, a dentist. Seeking to strike an emotional chord with the elderly, he said INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala was hurt by ‘arrogant’ JJP leaders.
“Ajay Chautala and his sons Dushyant and Digvijay have hurt the sentiments of Chautala Sa’ab. They caused a split in the family and the party for their personal political gains. Such people cannot be allowed to win,” he says.
On the other hand, BJP’s Aditya Devi Lal Chautala, 42, hopes he will be voted for being the direct descendant of Devi Lal, who twice served as Haryana CM.
Aditya is son of late Jagdish Chander, the younger son of Devi Lal, and he has strained relations with OP Chautala’s clan.
Aditya’s claim to fame is that he had won Sirsa zila parishad elections by defeating INLD nominee Kanta, wife of Abhay Chautala, in January 2016. “Dabwali was always a political bastion of the INLD, but voters are now disillusioned with them. My grandfather was known for fighting for the common man. But the INLD and JJP have deviated from the political ideology of Devi Lal,” he says at a small gathering at the Sikh-dominated Masitan village.
But JJP’s Sarvjit Singh Masitan, 46, hopes people will vote for him as they are satisfied with the work of earlier MLAs —Ajay Chautala and his wife Naina Chautala. Ajay is currently in jail in after being convicted in the JBT recruitment scam.
“Mata Naina Ji (Naina Chautala) gave an exceptional representation to Dabwali. Under the leadership of Ajay ji and Dushyant ji, people want JJP to pursue the pro-people legacy of Devi Lal,” says the rookie candidate at a rally in Dabwali town.
“Dabwali will vote for the true followers of Devi Lal’s ideology,” he adds. Congress candidate Amit Sihag, 37, accuses INLD, the BJP and the JJP of ignoring the constituency. Sihag is a distant relative of the Devi Lal clan. He is former president of the Haryana Youth Congress.
Addressing a rally at Chakjalu village, he urges people to vote for him to recognise the role of his father and veteran party leader Dr KV Singh.