Splinter group founder to key man: Rise and rise of Dushyant Chautala
Long before Dushyant Chautala hit the headlines as the potential kingmaker in Haryana after a hung assembly emerged from the October 21 assembly elections, he was known as an ideal lawmaker.
In fact, in 2015, the then 26-year-old was chosen by PRS Legislative Research as one of the best performing MPs, who was making his presence felt although he was a first-timer.
He represented at the time the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which was formed by his great grandfather and late deputy prime minister Devi Lal. His grandfather Om Prakash Chautala was in jail in a corruption case in which his father had also been charged.
Dushyant was busy carving out a different career path.Having reached Parliament after defeating another Haryana political heavyweight, Kuldeep Bishnoi, the youngest MP had notched up in just a few months a record of taking part in 22 debates, posing 152 questions and an attendance of 89%.
When this writer interviewed him then, he said: “I am only one of two MPs from my party so I don’t have a choice, we have to work very hard.’’
In a raucous parliament, the 6 feet 4 inch Sanawar School and American University graduate stood out for his polite and serious demeanour. While he continued to steadily work as an MP, his party was at the time more or less insignificant in Haryana.
In November last year, the INLD headed for a split after a family fight. Dushyant and his brother, backed by their father Ajay Chautala, pulled away from the party after becoming estranged from their uncle Abhay Chautala, and went on to found the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP).
“My father at that time had said that we should leave everything in the party and build something new,” Dushyant Chautala told HT on Thursday night after the JJP won 10 seats in the 90-member assembly to emerge as a potential kingmaker.
The parent party INLD had scored just a single seat, which was won by his uncle, “We proved that the real legacy of Chaudhary Devi Lal was with our party, the JJP,” he said.
The first one to spot potential in JJP was Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal, who tied up with the party in the Lok Sabha elections. And then Ashok Tanwar, the rebel Congress leader, too, said that he would put his weight behind him.
On Thursday evening, as Sirsa independent and newly elected lawmaker Gopal Kanda was heading down to Delhi while posting selfies in a private plane, Dushyant Chautala was meeting his party colleagues. Many thought he had missed the bus, taking too long to respond to overtures from the BJP for a tie-up. “I have to move sensibly,’’ he told HT, “I have come so far by thinking and acting sensibly.”
The wait proved to be wise as the BJP was lashed for reaching out to a criminally tainted Gopal Kanda. However, there are still challenges ahead as JJP’s success was carved out of a campaign that was anti- BJP. Will the people of Haryana accept his embrace of the very people he campaigned against? ``I will do what’s best for the people of Haryana,’’ said Dushyant to the media, as he left to meet BJP President Amit Shah to seal the deal.