Hisar: A four-cornered fight among for deputy PM Devi Lal's feuding family members and his protege | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Hisar: A four-cornered fight among for deputy PM Devi Lal's feuding family members and his protege

BySunil Rahar
May 24, 2024 11:44 PM IST

For the people of Hisar, the main issues are jobs, the Agniveer scheme, farming, and lack of civic amenities such as the availability of potable water.

In the Jat-dominated Hisar Lok Sabha seat, three members of the influential Devi Lal’s family are fighting against each other.

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

The feuding candidates include former deputy prime minister Devi Lal’s son Ranjit Chautala, who is fighting on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket, and two grand daughters-in-law, Sunaina Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Naina Chautala of the INLD’s offshoot Jannayak Janata Party (JJP).

The fourth candidate and former Hisar MP, Congress’ Jai Parkash, is not related to Devi Lal but is considered to be his political protégé.

Hisar is under the spotlight as it remains a key hub of the farmers' protest against the three farm laws, which were repealed after the first round of protests.

The JJP candidate Naina Chautala is the daughter-in-law of Devi Lal's eldest son OP Chautala; Sunaina Chautala is the daughter-in-law of his second son Pratap Singh Chautala.

Naina had won assembly elections from Dabwali in 2014 on INLD’s ticket and Badhra in Charkhi Dadri district as JJP candidate in 2019. She is contesting her first Lok Sabha election.

Devi Lal’s son Ranjit Chautala had won the 2019 assembly polls from Rania's seat in Sirsa as an independent after Congress denied him a ticket and he later supported the BJP government led by Manohar Lal Khattar. He won the election after a gap of 32 years. He was inducted into the cabinet and held power and jail ministries from 2019 until now. He won his first assembly poll in 1987 from the erstwhile Rori assembly seat and has served as the agriculture minister in Haryana.

Hours after joining the BJP, the party fielded him from Hisar by ignoring other candidates like former Hisar MP Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal and former Haryana finance minister Captain Abhimanyu. Ranjit served as a member of the upper house from 1990 to 1992.

Sunaina Chautala, the general secretary of INLD’s women wing is contesting her first Lok Sabha poll. She had won the student body polls from FC College in Hisar in 1994. Her husband Ravi Chautala had unsuccessfully contested assembly polls.

The Congress party candidate Jai Prakash claims to be the true torch-bearer of the Devi Lal legacy.

Better known as JP, he headed the green brigade (youths wearing green t-shirts) dispatched by Devi Lal in 1988 to support former prime minister VP Singh against the Congress party in Allahabad. He won the Hisar Lok Sabha seat on three occasions but from different parties every time. He also served as Barwala MLA on Congress’s ticket and as an independent from Kalayat in Kaithal in 2014. He had quit the party in 2014 after the party denied him a ticket but ahead of the 2019 polls, Bhupinder Singh Hooda inducted him into the fold.

The Congress had last won the Hisar seat in 2004 when Parkash secured victory from the constituency. He lost his security deposit from Hisar in the 2009 and 2014 general polls from Hisar. In the previous polls in 2019, Congress candidate Bhavya Bishnoi, who is now BJP MLA from Adampur, also lost his security.

Naina Chautala’s woman empowerment pitch

The first woman to enter politics from the Chautala clan, JJP’s Naina Chautala has made women empowerment her poll plank. Canvassing in Hisar city’s Jawahar Nagar in the scorching heat, Naina mingled with the women volunteers who reached there to welcome her, wearing green dupattas. Naina told them that though she had entered politics after her husband was incarcerated, she wanted to highlight 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% reservations 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 said.

She also spoke 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 said.

Ranjit Chautala pins hopes on Modi magic, Centre’s works

Ranjit Singh Chautala, 79, received a warm welcome from locals after he reached Budana village in Hisar. Addressing the public, he spoke of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government’s works, including the scrapping of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, the 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,” Ranjit said.

Sunaina banks on rivals’ anti-incumbency troubles

Meanwhile, INLD’s Sunaina Chautala’s campaign hinges on the anti-incumbency troubles of her rivals from BJP and JJP.

“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 being dragged (on the streets) by the police,” she said.

She also spoke of development issues. “Hisar has a shortage of doctors in government hospitals and teachers in schools. 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 said.

Jai Parkash 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 said.

“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 said.

Prakash also took 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 said.

The sentiment on ground

For the people of Hisar, the main election issues are jobs, the Agniveer scheme, issues related to farming, lack of civic amenities such as the availability of potable water and the crime rate.

Telu Ram, 59, who owns a six-acre of land at Bhaglana village in Hisar’s Narnaund, said: “Both BJP and Congress government are the same in terms of the work they did. But the BJP has 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 the 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.

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 in the constituency with the saffron party set to do well in urban areas while the Congress likely to fare better in rural areas.

According to political experts, factionalism within the Congress and BJP can damage the 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,” said a political expert who asked not to be named.

Rajendra Sharma, head, department of Political Science at Rohtak’s Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU), said the three members of the Devi Lal family are contesting to save their – and their family’s – eroding influence in the constituency.

“The INLD and JJP candidates are not so impressive on the ground. There is a direct fight between Ranjit Chautala of the BJP and Congress nominee Jai Parkash. Hisar was the epicentre of the farmers’ stir along with Jind and people in rural areas are fed up with the BJP-JJP and Congress is their only hope. The Jats particularly in Hisar are looking at Bhupinder Singh Hooda and not just at Parkash,” he said.

Another political expert Anant Ram, a retired political science professor from Bhiwani, said that the voters in Hisar are disgruntled with both the BJP and JJP as their leaders were not responsive during the farmers’ stir.

“The people are angry with Dushyant for supporting the BJP after it fell short of majority and supporting the erstwhile three farmers laws, which are repealed now. Even his father Ajay Chautala, who heads the party had claimed that laws are not made to take it back and he even called farmers’ stir a disease and people are questioning him and other leaders for their remarks,” Ram said.

“Hisar, which was known as a stronghold for Chautala and Bhajan Lal family seems to be preferring Hooda now because the rural voters have no choice except him who can defeat the BJP. The ruling party is facing huge anti-incumbency in rural areas and in cities BJP will perform better,” he said.

Out of the nine assemblies in Hisar, the BJP has MLAs 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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