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Struggle for existence for Om Prakash Chautala's INLD in Haryana this time

The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which has dominated the politics in Haryana for decades, was founded in October 1996 as Haryana Lok Dal (Rashtriya) by Choudhary Devi Lal, who had served as the  deputy prime minister of India and had also been the Chief Minister of Haryana for two terms. His son, Om Prakash Chautala was made the party president.

Struggle for existence for Om Prakash Chautala's INLD in Haryana this time

CHANDIGARH: The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which has dominated the politics in Haryana for decades, was founded in October 1996 as Haryana Lok Dal (Rashtriya) by Choudhary Devi Lal, who had served as the  deputy prime minister of India and had also been the Chief Minister of Haryana for two terms. His son, Om Prakash Chautala was made the party president.

The political journey of INLD began in 1982 during Haryana assembly election when the party, under the name Lok Dal (LKD), contested in an alliance with the BJP and managed to secure 31 seats with 23.87% vote share individually. The LKD-BJP alliance managed to bag 37 seats together, however, the Congress which bagged 36 seats formed a government with the support of the Independents.

In the 1987 Haryana assembly election, LKD secured a landslide victory and managed to win 60 seats of 69 it contested from with a resounding 38.58% vote share. Choudhary Devi Lal became the Chief Minister from 1987 to 1989, following which, he served as the Deputy Prime Minister in the VP Singh's Cabinet. In December 1989, Om Prakash Chautala was made the chief minister of Haryana, replacing his father, who had been appointed the country’s deputy prime minister.

The party was named INLD after winning a five-year term of Haryana Legislative Assembly in 1998. The party was a member of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and thus part of the BJP-led government from 1998 to 2004 at the federal level.

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The INLD finally tasted victory in the 2000 assembly election in Haryana where it fought the polls in alliance with the BJP and managed to secure the majority on its own after winning 47 seats individually and 53 seats in an alliance. Om Prakash Chautala became the chief minister for a full five-year term. 

In the 2005 state assembly elections, the party suffered a humiliating defeat, and bagged only nine seats. Poor governance during its previous tenure, the party’s split with the BJP over seat sharing deal, defections within the party itself, were touted as the reasons for the INLD’s poor electoral performance. Also, the death of Chaudhary Devi Lal in 2001 had also reduced the party’s popular appeal among the Jats, who had highly respected the senior leader.

The party's losing streak continued in the 2009 assembly election as it lost to the Congress for the second consecutive term as Congress' Bhupinder Singh Hooda became the chief minister after winning the support from the independents. 

In 2013, the INLD became the subject of a major corruption case. In January 2013, party president Chautala, his son Ajay Singh Chautala (the party’s secretary-general), and other leaders were convicted in a case involving the illegal recruitment of teachers in the state. The defendants received prison terms of up to 10 

years. In 2014 Haryana assembly election, the party suffered a major blow as it climbed down 12 places in seats with winning only 19 seats while the BJP, riding on the saffron wave and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity, secured a thumping majority for the first time in Haryana and won 47 seats with 33.2 per cent vote share. The INLD had finished second with over 24 per cent of vote share.

However, during the recently-concluded Lok Sabha election 2019, the regional party received its biggest blow after INLD's vote share nosedived to less than 2 per cent from over 24 per cent in both Lok Sabha and assembly elections in 2014. The party, in six out of the 10 parliamentary seats, finished in the fifth spot and settled with a fourth position in the remaining four.

The reasons for party's dwindling performance were seen as a vertical split in the party's leadership as months before the Lok Sabha election, Hisar MP Dushyant Chautala, grandson of Om Prakash Chautala floated his own party in 2018 — Jananayak Janata Party (JJP), resulting in major division of the party's vote bank.

The newly formed JJP, although not making any major impact and being subsumed by the BJP’s dominance, fared better than INLD with nearly 5 per cent of the vote share in General Election 2019, after contesting in alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party. Dushyant, who had won the Hisar Lok Sabha seat in 2014, finished second this time.

The INLD will be contesting the Haryana assembly election 2019, scheduled for October 21 where the INLD's core strength would be tested. The INLD is in a battle against the incumbent Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government which is aiming to secure a target of 75 seats in the election and its breakaway party JJP.