Hisar Lok Sabha seat: In clash of Chautalas, Devi Lal’s protege eyes gains - Hindustan Times
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Hisar Lok Sabha seat: In clash of Chautalas, Devi Lal’s protege eyes gains

BySunil Rahar, Hisar
May 19, 2024 08:10 AM IST

All four candidates have a connection to former deputy prime minister Devi Lal – Naina Chautala is the daughter-in-law of his eldest son OP Chautala, and Sunaina is the daughter-in-law of second son Pratap Singh Chautala, Ranjit Singh Chautala is his third son. Jai Prakash – though doesn’t hail from the Chautala clan – claims to be the true torch-bearer of the Devi Lal legacy for he was once the veteran leader’s blue-eyed boy.

In the Jat-dominated Hisar Lok Sabha seat, which has not sent any woman to the Parliament since 1952, elections are unfolding like a thriller with the Chautala bahus (daughters-in-law) -- Naina Chautala of the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), and Sunaina Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), locked in a fierce battle with their father-in-law Ranjit Singh Chautala of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress’ Jai Parkash, for the May 25 Lok Sabha polls.

Clockwise from top: JJP’s Naina Chautala, INLD’s Sunaina Chautala, Congress’ Jai Parkash and BJP’s Ranjit Chautala canvassing in Hisar. (HT Photos)
Clockwise from top: JJP’s Naina Chautala, INLD’s Sunaina Chautala, Congress’ Jai Parkash and BJP’s Ranjit Chautala canvassing in Hisar. (HT Photos)

All four candidates have a connection to former deputy prime minister Devi Lal – Naina Chautala is the daughter-in-law of his eldest son OP Chautala, and Sunaina is the daughter-in-law of second son Pratap Singh Chautala, Ranjit Singh Chautala is his third son. Jai Prakash – though doesn’t hail from the Chautala clan – claims to be the true torch-bearer of the Devi Lal legacy for he was once the veteran leader’s blue-eyed boy. Better known as JP, he headed the green brigade (youths wearing green t-shirts) dispatched by Devi Lal in 1988 to support VP Singh against the Congress in Allahabad.

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Naina’s woman empowerment pitch

The first woman to enter politics from the Chautala clan, JJP’s Naina Chautala is making women empowerment her poll plank. Canvassing in Hisar city’s Jawahar Nagar in the scorching heat, Naina hugs the women volunteers who reached there to welcome her, wearing green dupattas. Naina tells them that though she had entered politics after her husband was incarcerated, she is now in it to raise women’s issues. “Women are not safe in Haryana,” she says, citing the recent attack on her cavalcade during campaigning in Rojkhera village in Uchana. She then trains gun on the Congress candidate JP and blames him for the attack.

“Our party ensured 50 reservation for women in panchayati raj. We are in deep pain that we could not fulfil the promise of giving 5,100 per month pension to our elderly. Girls’ dropout rate (from schools) is also a big concern,” she says trying to strike an emotional chord with the women.

She also speaks of the “development that her son brought to the state”. “Due to Dushyant’s efforts, an airport construction is underway in Hisar. People can board flights from here in the future. Some people taunt us, saying that it is not an international airport. I want to tell them humbly that at least we have taken the initiative, we will have international flights in the future,” the JJP leader tells people.

Ranjit pins hopes on Modi magic, Centre’s works

As the 78-year-old Ranjit Singh Chautala reaches Budana village in Hisar, he receives a warm welcome from the residents. Addressing the public, he talks of the Modi government’s works, including the scrapping of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, construction of Ram temple and giving a befitting reply to Pakistan, besides ‘cleaning up’ the Indian economy. He, then, takes on the Congress, stating that all they care about is “elevating the Gandhi family scion”.

“This is an election to elect a Prime Minister, you have to decide whether Modi is better for the nation or Rahul Gandhi? Congress leaders are quitting the party because they know the party will be wiped off after these elections. Sonia Gandhi’s sole aim is to make her son Rahul the PM. In Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda wants to make his own son the chief minister. These ambitions will never be fulfilled as their sons lack merit,” says Ranjit.

Sunaina banks on rivals’ anti-incumbency troubles

Meanwhile, INLD’s Sunaina Chautala exploits the anti-incumbency troubles of her BJP and JJP rivals. “Naina and Ranjit both supported the BJP government which used batons on farmers and women wrestlers. The duo enjoyed power when the wrestlers and farmers’ were dragged by the police,” she says.

She also speaks of development issues. “Hisar has a shortage of doctors in government hospitals and teachers in school. Teachers are busy with clerical work and students’ education is being affected. In many villages, people bring tankers to get drinking water. The BJP government has failed to address local issues,” she says while adding, “The BJP and Congress ruined Haryana in the last 20 years.”

Jai Prakash takes on the clan members, hits out Modi govt

Up against three members of the Devi Lal clan, Congress candidate Jai Parkash, who represented the Hisar Lok Sabha seat thrice, says that people are fed up with Modi’s rule. “All their promises turned out to be lies be it the promise of giving two crore jobs a year or doubling farmers’ income. The BJP government in Haryana is just a portal Sarkar (reference to property ID, parivar pehchan patra) due to which people are facing problems,” he says. “The Haryana government has failed to recruit youths through the common entrance test (CET) in five years. Aap muje yahan se jeta kr Hooda sahab k hath majbut kro (Vote for me and give more power to Hooda). We will form the next government in Haryana under Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s leadership,” he says.

He also takes on the Chautala clan members, accusing them of “spoiling Devi Lal’s name”. “Both Ranjit and JJP leaders, including Naina and her family, have not followed Devi Lal’s principles. They spoiled his name. We are fighting to fulfil his aspirations. There is a Congress wave in Haryana and people will oust BJP from power,” he says.

The sentiment on ground

For people in Hisar, it’s jobs, the Agniveer scheme, agricultural issues, civic amenities such as availability of potable water, and the crime rate that matter.

Telu Ram, 59, who owns a six-acre of land at Bhaglana village in Hisar’s Narnaund, says, “Both BJP and Congress government are the same in terms of the work they did. But the BJP is attacked our prestige by thrashing farmers.”

“We will vote for the Congress, not because of Jai Prakash but because of Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Two seats in Haryana -- Rohtak and Hisar, are important. The farmers’ community wants Congress to win from here so we can send out a strong message to BJP and their top leadership. Inhone izzat par war kiya hai (BJP attacked our honour and prestige). Last time, we had voted for Dushyant but he had cheated with our mandate by extending support to the BJP,” he added.

Suresh Kumar, who owns a shop in Hansi, said that the poor are getting free ration, Modi has constructed Ram temple and their vote would be on that basis. “Youths hailing from poor families got jobs in a transparent manner in Haryana. The BJP government’s image had dented after it ran a coalition with the JJP,” he says.

Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Kirtan village, said, “The BJP government has not released crop compensation for two years. The prices of seeds, fertilisers, diesel have soared but the crop prices were not hiked accordingly. The cost of the feed given to buffaloes and cows also increased but milk prices weren’t hiked. Farmers and labourers are in a miserable condition.”

The BJP and Congress nominees seem to be tied in a neck-and-neck contest with the saffron party having a strong support in the urban areas and the Congress finding support in rural areas.

According to political experts, factionalism within the Congress and BJP can damage prospects of their candidates. “In BJP, former finance minister Captain Abhimanyu, Kuldeep Bishnoi and Ranbir Gangwa are unhappy. In the Congress, former Union minister Birender Singh and workers of Kumari Selja are said to be unhappy with the party candidate. BJP is facing anti-incumbency and booth management is a problem for the Congress,” pointed out experts.

Out of the nine assemblies in Hisar, the BJP has an MLA in five segments -- Nalwa, Adampur, Hisar, Bawani Khera and Hansi. The JJP represents Uchana, Narnaund, Uklana and Barwala. The Congress has no MLA in the constituency.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BJP’s Brijendra Singh had won from this seat and Congress had last won Hisar in 2004 when Jai Parkash was elected to the lower house.

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