Haryana Elections 2014: Can Jats rescue Om Prakash Chautala?
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) chief Om Prakash Chautala may be down but not out as he prepares the ground for a comeback.
The 79-year-old leader, who is behind bars after being convicted for ten years in the teachers recruitment scandal, is confident that he will be back as the Chief Minister, if it meant taking oath in jail.
His son Ajay Singh Chautala, who is also a secretary general of the INLD, and several eight other officials were indicted for allegedly illegally promoting some 3,200 teacher candidates during Chautala’s fourth term as chief minister. They were sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment.
Chautala's confidence stems from his strong support base in the powerful Jat community that ensured that he was Haryana CM's for record five times. In fact, INLD had bagged second spot in 2009 Haryana Assembly election by winning 31 seats out of the total 90 seats.
The son of former deputy prime minister of India, Chaudhari Devi Lal, Chautala, joined politics quite early in life .
Contesting on Janata Dal ticket, he became an MLA for the fist time in 1970 and became CM for the first time in 1989.
Subsequently Chautala occupied the chair for four more times, the last time in alliance with BJP in 2000, however his party broke the alliance later paving the way for fresh elections in 2005 that saw Bhupinder Singh Hooda emerge as the Chief Minsiter.
The INLD made an impressive comeback in 2009 but it could not garner enough seats to form government in the state.
Chautala has also been in alliance with the Congress at one point and is known to be a skilful master of alliance master.
Out on bail on health grounds, Chautala campaigned aggressively before the court asked him to surrender.
During his time out of prison, Chautala joined hands with his socialist friends like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Nitish Kumar, to forge a grand alliance against the BJP.
Importantly, Chautala his known to be extremely close Parkash Singh Badal of Akali Dal. The relationship is strong enough for SAD to openly campaign against its NDA ally BJP in Haryana.
But the BJP appears determined to keep away from him with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making it clear that the BJP won't take support from those lodged in Tihar jail.
Will Chautala take oath from jail or will he be swept away by the Modi wave? Wait till October 19.