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Dushyant Chautala is the new kingmaker in Haryana politics and is more than his surname

Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party is now set to be a part of the Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana, barely 10 months after it was formed.

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Chandigarh: Dushyant Chautala is the man of the moment in Haryana politics. His party is set to occupy the deputy chief minister’s post in the next state cabinet.

And he has managed to achieve this barely 10 months after he created the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), breaking away from the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).

This will be only the third time when Haryana will have a deputy chief minister after Banarasi Das Gupta, a freedom fighter, and Chander Mohan, the son of former chief minister Bhajan Lal. Every time this tiny state has had a deputy chief minister, it is only because of the political compulsions at play.

While the BJP emerged as the single-largest party in the Haryana assembly, winning 40 of its 90 seats, it fell six short of a simple majority to form the government. It was here that Dushyant, the new Jat star, emerged as a kingmaker, offering his support to the BJP with 10 JJP MLAs.

But this new coalition of BJP-JJP would be an interesting watch. Dushyant had continuously attacked the Manohar Lal Khattar government during his election campaigns.


Also read: Haryana shows BJP isn’t invincible in assembly polls. But here’s what saves it in the end


‘Youngest parliamentarian to win assembly seat’

Dushyant’s impressive lineage must have nudged him into politics but this young scion is more than just his family surname. In 2014, he became the youngest parliamentarian to win an assembly seat (as an INLD member) when he defeated Kuldeep Bishnoi, a joint candidate of the Haryana Janhit Congress and the BJP, in Hisar.

This victory was important for Dushyant whose father Ajay Chautala, a former MP, and grandfather Om Prakash Chautala, a four-time chief minister of the state, were sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment in 2013 for their involvement in a teachers’ recruitment scam.

His win was INLD’s comeback in Haryana following the arrest of two of its most senior leaders.

Split from INLD

When Dushyant married Meghna Ahlawat, daughter of police officer Paramjit Singh Ahlawat in April 2017, a photograph of him carrying his uncle Abhay Chautala (his father Ajay Chautala’s younger brother) on his shoulders had made waves, with viewers talking about the endearing chacha-bhatija relationship.

Little did people know that the two, who had been working together to re-energise the INLD that had been out of power for 10 years since 2005, would soon turn into sworn enemies.

As the party grew, so did the political ambitions of its leaders and both Dushyant and Abhay were being projected as the future chief ministers of the state. An ugly spat between Dushyant and Abhay in 2018 drove the final wedge, splitting the INLD into two.

Dushyant launched his JJP at a massive rally in Jind in December, naming his party after the honorific given to his great grandfather Devi Lal.


Also read: Manohar Lal Khattar — the BJP dark horse who cost the party its Haryana edge


JJP’s foothold in Haryana

JJP marked its arrival in Haryana’s political scene when Dushyant’s younger brother Digvijay fought the Jind bypolls earlier this year. Digvijay came second, losing to the BJP candidate, but managed to secure more than 37,600 votes while the INLD got just 3,500 votes.

A confident Dushyant then fielded several candidates in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party. He tried retaining his seat in Hisar, but managed to muster just 5 per cent of the vote share.

But Dushyant learnt his lesson. For the Haryana assembly election, he managed to field strong candidates – a mix of young faces and senior rebel leaders of the Congress and the BJP. And the strategy paid off. The JJP mopped up around 15 per cent of the vote share, reclaiming two-thirds of the Jat vote that traditionally voted for the INLD.

In the run-up to the Haryana election, Dushyant made sure that he personally campaigned on almost every seat where JJP candidates were fighting, something which the top Haryana Congress leaders failed to do.

Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attack on dynastic politics, Dushyant not only retained his seat but also helped his mother Naina Chautala make it to the assembly again for a second consecutive term.

Politics in his blood

Born into Haryana’s leading political family, 1988-born Dushyant has his finger on the pulse of the people – the huge attendance at his rallies are a proof.

When he was in the INLD, Dushyant’s main chunk of support came from the youth who nearly idolised him. Thursday’s election results, however, show that the JJP’s support base has now grown beyond the state’s youth and now includes long-time supporters of the INLD as well.

A product of the Lawrence School, Sanawar, Dushyant is a BSc in Business Administration from the California State University and also holds a degree in journalism. A sports buff, Dushyant excelled in boxing, basketball and hockey. He went on to become the youngest head of the Table Tennis Federation of India.

An agriculturist too, Dushyant had hit national headlines when he rode a tractor near Parliament to protest against the Centre’s move to pronounce the tractor as a commercial vehicle. On voting day, he drove his family to the polling booth on a tractor. An amateur painter, all eyes are now on how Dushyant reshapes Haryana’s politics and his party’s political ambitions.


Also read: Congress’ ex-Haryana unit chief Ashok Tanwar to support Dushyant Chautala in state polls


 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Indians do not mind dynastic politics as long as they are honest people. This Chautala family is neck deep in corruption and still people vote for them. People look at their community and caste and that is why corruption never leaves the shores of India.

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