OP Chautala

Published on Apr 15, 2004 06:34 PM IST

Haryana's chief minister and INLD supremo is, in his own words, a practical politician. Part of his practicality is in his genes -- he is the son of former Dy PM Devi Lal.

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Haryana's chief minister and Indian National Lok Dal supremo Om Prakash Chautala is, in his own words, a practical politician. Part of his practicality is in his genes -- he is the son of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.

But blood ties alone don't a leader make, and Chautala is his own man. He became the chief minister of Haryana for the fifth time in March 2000. This was preceded by no less than five stints in the state assembly as an MLA and one in the Rajya Sabha.

Chautala was born on the new year day of 1935 at village Chautala in Sirsa district. His father was in the thick and thin of the freedom moment, so young Chautal knew where his destiny was.

He honed his skills by organising rallies like 'Nayaya Yudh' for his father and later came on his own with 'Haryana Bachao' movement. Both as Chief Minister and opposition leader, Chautala has been secular but fiercely pro-Haryana.

Haryana's political battlefield remains the domain of Bansi Lal, Bhajan Lal and Devi Lal. The son of the late Tau (uncle) of Indian politics will slug it out again with the two on 10 May for 10 Lok Sabha seats.

Not so long ago Chautala was aligned with the BJP, but in March 2004 he blasted the party as "unprincipled, opportunistic and power hungry". Even as he severed links with the NDA at Centre, Chautala said he was open to a coalition with the BJP after the elections. That's practical politics the Chautala way.

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