The Haryana Assembly poll results have sprung up a surprise for the BJP. The party was expected to win 75 seats in the 90 member state assembly and it was being predicted that the opposition would be completely decimated. The party did emerge as the single largest party but it fell short of the majority mark and its final tally was limited to 40 seats. The assembly polls have made it clear that the opposition may be fragmented and enfeebled, it has not been altogether extinguished as was being suggested. Another key takeaway of the Haryana Assembly polls is the rise of Jannayak Janata Party chief Dushyant Chautala.
The Dushyant Chautala led party has secured 10 seats and is being widely seen as the kingmaker in the state. The Congress having achieved 31 seats, it must be looking at garnering support of the JJP and somehow stitching up an alliance in order to prevent the BJP from returning for a second term, even though the mandate is largely tilted in favour of a BJP government though it has fallen just short of the majority mark. Former Haryana Chief Minister and senior Congress leader in the state, Bhupinder Singh Hooda already seems to have suggested this. He said, “This mandate is against the BJP. The JJP, INLD and others, including the Independents, should join hands with the Congress to keep the BJP at bay.” In view of a split verdict therefore Dushyant Chautala’s rise has become that much more significant and dramatic.
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 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.
What triggered an official split within the INLD was the Gohana rally in October 2018, during which Abhay Chautala was heckled. Dushyant Chautala and his younger brother, Digvijay Chautala were blamed for this incident and were expelled from the INLD. Later on, their father Ajay Chautala, who defended his sons was also expelled from the INLD. The JJP was launched formally in December 2018. In less than a year, this splinter group of the INLD has emerged as a force to reckon with, whereas INLD looks like a spent force even as its tally of seats in the state of Haryana went down from 19 seats in the 2014 Legislative Assembly polls to just a solitary seat this time around. In fact, the formation of the splinter group had hurt the INLD instantly as four of its MLAs elected during the 2014 polls had joined the Dushyant Chautala led breakaway faction of the INLD, viz. the JJP.
What Dushyant Chautala has been able to do is appeal to the voters in an effective manner, which showcases his political accumen and astuteness. He has able to convince the voters that the JJP is the real representative of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal’s legacy, by saying, “The former Deputy Prime Minister was popular among masses as ‘Jannayak’ and that is why we have included Jannayak in our party’s name.”
Dushyant Chautala has not only been able to catapult his party to a position of strength in less than one year of its formation, but he also seems to have a fair idea of how to effectively manage and use that position of strength. He has not divulged his future plans and he very well seems to know that he is going to be the kingmaker in the state. He remains non-committal on whom he is going to support. He said, “It is too early to say anything. We will first summon a meeting of our MLAs, decide who would be our leader in the House and then take it further.” The Haryana Assembly elections therefore mark the meteoric rise of Dushyant Chautala, a fourth generation dynast, but an astute political leader.