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Devi Lal’s birth anniversary set to become Opposition’s rallying point

The Indian National Lok Dal will invite key regional parties to Devi Lal’s 105th birth anniversary celebrations to cement another broad understanding. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, who has an alliance with the party in Haryana, is expected to be one of the prominent faces at the event.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2018 23:57 IST
HT Correspondent
INLD,Mayawati,Indian National Lok Dal
The INLD draws its electoral strength from the Jat community, and is pitted against the BJP and the Congress in Haryana. It hopes an alliance with the BSP will help attract significant Dalit votes. (File Photo)

Almost three decades after Haryana leader and former deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal played an important role in bringing together opposition parties against the Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), led by his political successors, will invite key regional parties to Lal’s 105th birth anniversary celebrations to cement another broad understanding, party leader Dushyant Chautala said.

The event will be held at Gohana in Sonepat, Haryana, on September 25.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, who has an alliance with the INLD in Haryana, is expected to be one of the prominent faces at the event. Senior INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala met Mayawati in New Delhi on Wednesday to invite her to the rally. This will be the first time that Mayawati will be sharing the dais with INLD leaders after they announced a tie-up.

“We will invite all friends of Devi Lal who were with him during his days of struggle,” Dushyant Chautala, Devi Lal’s great grandson, said. Another INLD leader said former prime minister HD Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal (Secular), Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party, Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and several others will be invited to the event.

Devi Lal was one of north India’s most significant political figures. He first entered the Punjab Legislative Assembly on a Congress ticket in 1951. A critic of the Emergency, he was jailed during the period. A follower of the tall Jat leader and former PM Chaudhary Charan Singh, he first became Haryana Chief Minister in 1977.

But Lal’s most significant moment on the national stage was in 1989, when he was chosen by the Janata Dal to become PM. But Lal stepped back and proposed VP Singh’s name as the PM. The two soon fell out. And Lal teamed up with Mulayam Singh and Chandrashekhar and helped the latter become PM. He founded Haryana Lok Dal (Rashtriya) in 1998, which was later known as India National Lok Dal.

“We want all non-Congress and non-BJP forces to unite,” Dushyant said. “We want to form a government in Delhi next year that addresses regional aspirations and gives a voice to smaller parties who have a base in different parts of the country.”

The INLD draws its electoral strength from the Jat community, and is pitted against the BJP and the Congress in Haryana. It hopes an alliance with the BSP will help attract significant Dalit votes.

The INLD move is significant for it represents yet another effort, in what is turning out to be a multi-pronged effort, to challenge the BJP. The first push is by the Congress, which has indicated its openness to forge state-specific alliances in specific states and even reconcile itself to a junior status. The second push for opposition unity is being led by Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. She has proposed a ‘federal front’.

But the third effort, of which the INLD meeting is a part, is the one spearheaded by Mayawati. In Haryana, the two have an alliance. But BSP is also central to an alliance with the Samajwadi Party and the RLD in Uttar Pradesh, and is seriously negotiating with the Congress for a tie-up in election-bound states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 23:57 IST