Probably the biggest take away from the recently concluded legislative assembly polls in Haryana has been the rise of JJP supremo, Dushyant Chautala. The Dushyant Chautala led party, which is a merely 11-months old breakaway faction of the INLD, secured 10 seats in the Haryana Assembly and eventually emerged as the kingmaker in the state. Dushyant Chautala, a fourth-generation dynast, is the great-grandson of former deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal and grandson of jailed INLD leader O.P. Chautala. He was elected as an MP on an INLD ticket in 2014. However, there was a split within the INLD and the Chautala clan in 2018, which led to the formation of Dushyant Chautala led JJP. The INLD had become a divided lot due to differences between Ajay Chautala, Dushyant Chautala’s father and Abhay Chautala, the younger son of O.P. Chautala. The Chautala patriarch decided to remain with his younger son.
Dushyant Chautala was not only able to lead his party to an emphatic performance during the assembly polls but also took a mature and appreciable decision of aligning with the BJP and respecting the electoral mandate. Haryana, today has a stable and popular government as the JJP decided to enter an alliance with the BJP, which emerged as the single largest party in the state and fell just short of the majority mark. He has therefore not only displayed exceptional leadership qualities but has also exhibited sharp political acumen. After Shiv Sena MP, Sanjay Raut took a dig at him and his father saying that government formation got delayed in Maharashtra because “there is no Dushyant [Chautala] here whose father is in jail,” Dushyant Chautala maintained his composure and was able to effectively hit back at the Shiv Sena over Raut’s remarks. The JJP supremo said, “It means he knows who Dushyant Chautala is. My father has been in jail for six years, he [Raut] never asked about his well being. Ajay Chautala Ji will not come out without completing his term. Such statements don’t add to Sanjay Ji’s stature.”
The manner in which Dushyant Chautala has staged an unprecedented political turnaround in the state of Haryana is in sharp contrast to the general trend of dynastic successors proving to be the nemesis of political outfits in the recent past. Take Tejashwi Yadav for example, whose father, RJD Founder-President Lalu Prasad Yadav is also serving a jail term after being convicted in corruption charges. The party has been performing miserably under the Yadav scion and drew a blank during the Lok Sabha polls held earlier this year. This is in sharp contrast to Dushyant Chautala’s efficient leadership. Despite his father serving a jail term and a split within the INLD and the Chautala clan, the 31-year old dynast single-handedly led the breakaway faction, JJP, to a position of strength in less than a year of its formation. He has almost single-handedly carved out political space for himself in the state and that too despite exit polls predicting complete decimation of the opposition during the run-up to the legislative assembly elections in Haryana.
Dushyant Chautala has also been able to showcase sharp political acumen as discussed above. Compare this with Rahul Gandhi, the inheritor of the Nehru-Gandhi political legacy. The Gandhi scion appears clueless and politically unaware on most of the occasions. On more than one occasion, Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a source of unmanageable embarrassment for the grand old party. Most of the times, he fails to perform the key functions of a party leader such as facing questions, formulating a coherent political strategy and taking on political opponents. Rahul Gandhi was the one who sabotaged Congress’ 2019 Lok Sabha campaign by bringing up his make-believe allegations against Rafale deal time and again despite his lies getting exposed every single time. Dushyant Chautala’s independent approach is in sharp contrast to Rahul Gandhi. The manner in which Dushyant Chautala replied to Sanjay Raut’s personal and distasteful remarks shows that he is capable of handling and answering political remarks.
What also sets Dushyant Chautala apart from his contemporary dynasts is his ability to understand ground realities and formulate political strategies accordingly. While the Shiv Sena, an old and natural ally of the BJP, has unnecessarily engaged itself in a power struggle with its senior ally in Maharashtra, Dushyant Chautala has ensured a rather smooth transition in Haryana by aligning his party, JJP with the BJP. He understands how to interpret an electoral mandate and play the role that has been allocated by the voters to him.
Dushyant Chautala’s phenomenal success during the Haryana Assembly polls, therefore, marks the rise of an unconventional dynast at a time when incapable political dynasts across the country have been instrumental in the downfall of several major political outfits.