Haryana Polls
Haryana Poll Politics. (IANS Infographics)

Chandigarh, Oct 8 (IANS) In Haryana, its the legacy that matters the most when it comes to politics! Once ruled by three ‘Lals’ — Devi Lal, Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal, the state is now witnessing their third or fourth generations battling it out in the elections for the 90 Assembly seats that will go to the polls on October 21. Altogether, 10 members of the ‘Lal’ clans are in the fray.

While three family members of the four-time Chief Minister and two-time Union Minister Bansi Lal are trying their electoral luck, two sons of the stalwart of state’s dusty and defection-ridden politics and three-time Chief Minister Bhajan Lal are also in the fray. Five kin of the breakaway state’s family-ruled regional political faction, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), formed by former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal, are contesting.

Bansi Lal’s daughter-in-law Kiran Choudhry is vying for her fourth consecutive victory from the family citadel, Tosham. Kiran Choudhry’s estranged brother-in-law Ranbir Mahendra, former President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is in fray from Badhra. He was defeated by 29-year-old Sukhvinder Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 Assembly elections.

Another clan member of the late Bansi Lal, who was known to be a tough administrator, is his son-in-law and former legislator Somvir Singh Sheoran, who is contesting from Loharu. Bansi Lal was the Chief Minister four times, the first being in 1968 and the last from 1996 to 1999. He had special fame for defeating arch-rivals Bhajan Lal and Devi Lal. The Bansi Lal dynasty is trying to save family legacy by contesting as Congress nominees. So is late Bhajan Lal’s family.

Sitting legislator Kuldeep Bishnoi, whose hotel in a prime business space of Gurugram worth Rs 150 crore has been attached by the Income Tax Department considering it as a ‘benami’ asset, has been re-nominated from Adampur and his elder brother and former Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan has been fielded from Panchkula. Both are Congress candidates. In May, Bishnoi’s son Bhavya made his electoral debut from the Hisar parliamentary seat, once considered their family bastion, but forfeited his security deposit.
Mohan ditched politics for love in 2008. He embraced Islam and changed his name to Chand Mohammad and married a woman, who was a former Deputy Advocate General in Punjab. Hansi legislator Renuka Bishnoi, the wife of Kuldeep Bishnoi, was dropped this time by the Congress as she did not want to contest. She is the only sitting legislator who has not been fielded.

Dura Ram, a BJP candidate from Fatehabad, is also related to the Bhajan Lal family. He joined the BJP on the day of poll announcement on September 21. Five members of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal are in the poll arena. His son Ranjit Singh has fielded himself as an Independent from Rania in Sirsa district after the Congress denied him a ticket.

The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), now headed by O.P. Chautala, has fielded Devi Lal’s grandson Abhay Singh Chautala from Ellenabad in Sirsa. INLD’s breakaway faction Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) is headed by Devi Lal’s another grandson Ajay Chautala. The JJP has also fielded two family members — Ajay’s son Dushyant Chautala from Uchana Kalan in Jind district and wife Naina Chautala from Badhra in Bhiwani district. Dushyant parted ways with the INLD in December 2018 after a bitter split in the party and the Chautala family. The BJP has given a ticket to Devi Lal’s grandson Aditya Devi Lal from Dabwali in Sirsa.

Ajay Chautala and Om Prakash Chautala, four-time Chief Minister and son of Devi Lal, are in Tihar jail, serving a 10-year term, following their conviction in a teachers’ recruitment scam. Bhajan Lal was a non-Jat leader, while Devi Lal was regarded as a Jat leader with mass rural support.

Two-time Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is in the fray from Garhi Sampla-Kiloi constituency in Rohtak, is the son of former Minister (in undivided Punjab) Chaudhary Ranbir Singh.

Sitting BJP legislator Prem Lata, wife of former Union Minister Birender Singh who is the grandson of the state’s Jat icon Sir Chotu Ram is pitted against JJP’s Dushyant Chautala, another Jat leader. In the 2014 Assembly polls, she defeated Dushyant by 7,480 votes.

Uchana Kalan, a part of the Hisar Lok Sabha seat, has been a traditional bastion of Lata’s husband who represented the seat five times since 1977. In the last Lok Sabha elections, Dushyant lost the Hisar seat to Lata’s bureaucrat-turned-politician son Bijendra Singh.

Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh, a descendant of freedom movement leader (1857 War of Independence) Raja Rao Tula Ram, has considerable influence on the Ahir community. He was seeking a ticket in this election for his daughter Aarti Rao, but was denied by the BJP.

The Congress party’s national spokesman Randeep Surjewala, a former Minister who is seeking re-election from Kaithal, is the son of former Minister and state Congress President Shamsher Singh Surjewala.

For Babita Phogat, daughter of wrestling coach and Droncahraya Award winner Mahavir Singh Phogat, whose character was played by Amir Khan in blockbuster “Dangal”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an inspiration. “When you are representing a country in international competition, the country’s prestige is at stake. Likewise, when you are working for a (political) party, you have to deliver and work with devotion for a cause,” she told IANS. Her mother was a sarpanch twice.

In her election campaigns, small screen actress Sonali Phogat is targeting the Bishnoi family by saying they would disappear from the constituency for five years once the election is over. The BJP includes a three-time legislator and Cabinet Minister Kavita Jain, who has been fielded from Sonipat.

In a major setback for the Congress ahead of the polls, its women wing chief Sumitra Chouhan resigned and joined the BJP.

Author: Vishal Gulati – vishal.g@ians.in

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