CHANDIGARH: Former Haryana chief minister and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) chief Om Prakash Chautala, jailed in connection with a teacher recruitment scam, walked out of Delhi’s Tihar Jail on Friday after serving his sentence. The 86-year-old Jat leader’s release could change the way politics plays out in the state, especially at this juncture when the farm agitation is building up again and panchayat polls are scheduled soon.
Chautala’s release appears to have infused a new energy in his party workers and supporters. Hundreds of them gathered at Delhi-Gurugram border to welcome their leader and started beating drums, raising slogans and showering flower petals as soon as his cavalcade arrived.
The INLD veteran said he would continue to fight or the poor and the farmers.
The biggest challenge for Chautala will be to regain the lost ground, with the upcoming panchayat polls being his first test. He is faced with the task of consolidating his Jat vote bank again and re-building the party from the grassroots.
During his incarceration, the INLD suffered a major setback as a family feud broke up the party and JJP was formed in December 2018.The JJP won 10 seats in the 2019 assembly polls and Chautala’s grandson Dushyant Chautala becoming Deputy CM as the JJP joined hands with the BJP to form government.
The INLD’s lone MLA, Chautala’s elder son Abhay Chautala, resigned from the assembly in January in solidarity with the protesting farmers. In Chautala’s absence, former CM and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda had assumed the Jat leadership. But with the BJP coming into power and M L Khattar becoming CM, Jat dominance in power was weakened.