BY VISHAL GULATI
Chandigarh, Oct 23 (IANS) Is Dushyant the rising force in Haryana among the politically diminished Chautala clan of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lals state party Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)?
It seems so if one goes by several opinion polls that predict the ruling BJP will return to power with a brute majority by winning 75 out of 90 seats with a vote share of 42.4 per cent against 26 per cent of the Congress.
The less than a year old Dushyant-led Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), an INLD defector, is predicted to get seven seats with a vote share of 19 per cent, while the INLD is a bigger casualty of BJP’s meteoric rise.
Analysts believe the JJP’s rise from the ashes is noticeable as its vote share with its alliance partner AAP in this year’s Lok Sabha polls was 4.53 per cent.
A new exit poll survey on Tuesday said the two arch rivals — BJP and Congress — are locked in a close fight and the result could go either way.
It also predicts the JJP is expected to win 6-10 seats, bigger than earlier surveys.
In terms of party-wise vote share, India Today-Axis My India predicted the BJP to secure 33 per cent votes, the Congress 32 per cent and the JJP to get 14 per cent votes.
With a sample size of 23,118, it says the traditional vote bank of the undivided INLD is likely to fall in JJP’s kitty.
In 2014 Assembly polls, the vote share of the BJP rose sharply by 26.47 per cent from a meager 6.73 per cent in 2005 polls.
By the Lok Sabha polls in May, it crossed the half-way mark.
“If we go by exit polls, the INLD’s larger vote-share has been shifted lock, stock and barrel to the JJP, while the remaining to the BJP,” an analyst told IANS.
In this year’s Lok Sabha elections, INLD’s vote-share nose-dived to less than two per cent from over 24 per cent in polls of 2014 and 25.8 per cent in 2009.
Interestingly, INLD’s below two per cent was less than that of Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) 3.6 per cent.
Analysts blame the INLD’s diminish to its vertical split.
Dushyant, a business administration graduate from California State University, parted ways with the INLD in December 2018 after a bitter vertical split in the party and the Chautala family.
Former Member of Parliament Dushyant’s father, Ajay Chautala, is the elder son of four-time Chief Minister and INLD President Om Prakash Chautala.
The INLD, which ruled the state the last time from 2000 to 2004 and was once the main opposition party in the outgoing government, was divided owing to difference between Ajay and Abhay Chautala. Their father remained with the younger son.
Dushyant, who campaigned along with his great-grandfather Devi Lal who was in the fray in 1996 from the Rohtak Lok Sabha seat, in his addresses to supporters during these polls has not only played an emotional chord but also not minced words in taking a dig at his estranged family for severing family ties.
Dushyant’s campaign has been focused largely on the youth with a promise of more job opportunities, says a political observer.
Contrary, the INLD relied more on its patriarch Om Prakash Chautala, who after completing his parole went back to jail on October 8.
He is serving a 10-year jail term in Tihar for his involvement in a teacher recruitment scam.
Not lagging behind, Dushyant, who fought on JJP’s symbol in last Lok Sabha polls and finished second, appealed to the voters this time saying, “the JJP is the real representative of the legacy of Devi Lal”.
“The former Deputy Prime Minister was popular among masses as ‘Jannayak’ and that is the why we have included Jannayak in our party’s name,” he has said.
Dushyant’s JJP had shown its strengths in the Jind bypoll in January in which it finished second and Congress national spokesperson Randeep Surjewala finished third.
Reposing more faith in turncoats to ensure its return, the ruling BJP has fielded 15 rebel candidates, including 11 defected INLD legislators.
Of the INLD’s 19 MLAs, four joined its breakaway faction JJP.
According to the India Today-Axis My India Exit Poll, Dushyant is likely to emerge as the kingmaker with his party manages enough seats to play the key role in the formation of the next government in Haryana.
Only the counting of ballot for the 90 seats of the Assembly on October 24 will decide the future of legacy of Devi Lal.
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at [email protected])