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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 104

Haryana gets a father-son party

By Allabaksh - Syndicate Features

Another family concern has been added to the long list of such enterprises in Indian politics. The state, Haryana, where this latest addition took place with the father and son duo of Bhajan Lal and Kuldeep Bishnoi (member of parliament) announcing a new outfit called Haryana Janhit Party, has been one of the earlier grounds for nursing political ambitions of some families; particularly the three ‘Lals’ of Haryana—Devi Lal; Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal. Significantly, the symbol of the new party is the rising sun.

Though late Devi Lal had broken from the Congress long ago, a common denominator among the three ‘Lals’ (literally sons) has been their intense rivalry, mutual distrust and dislike, even when two of them were sometimes found to be members of the same party (Congress). When their cohabitation in the same camp became unbearable, the two--Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal—formed their own parties at different times only to return to the Congress fold after a while.

Whether or not Bhajan Lal (for years derided as a ghee merchant) returns ‘home’ once again will perhaps be known only by the next summer as his followers have been advised to wait for ‘six months’ before a more definitive and detailed programme by the father and son duo is made public. The ageing Haryana politician, in the meanwhile, might study the zigzag political course of some other ‘family’ concerns in Indian politics. They are in almost every state—Karnataka (Gowda and his two sons) Kerala (Karunakaran and son) Tamil Nadu (Karunanidhi and son), UP (Mulayam and son), Jammu and Kashmir (Farooq Abdullah and son), Bihar (Lalu Yadav and wife), Punjab (Badal and son)…

Bhajan Lal will have to make the people in Haryana believe him when he and his son accuse the Congress president Sonia Gandhi of being ‘power hungry’ and ‘murderer of democracy’ for foisting Bhupinder Singh Hooda as chief minister instead of him. Bhajan Lal clearly holds the view that the altruistic aims of the Congress high command and its democratic credentials ended when they denied him the Haryana crown.

With the entry of their third generation into politics, the Devi Lal and Bansi Lal dynasties seem to have an edge over Bhajan Lal who has so far been able to push only his two sons into politics. But that is not the reason why the three-time chief minister (Bhajan Lal) had been patient so far. Perhaps he genuinely believed that he will be made the chief minister.

In early 2005 when Congress came to power in Haryana displacing the Om Prakash Chutala’s Indian National Lok Dal government, Bhajan Lal was stumped to see Bhupinder Singh Hooda being appointed chief minister—a job that he thought was his by right. He resigned from his post ‘in a huff’ as the PCC chief though after a little while later he agreed to make peace with the party high command and to let ‘bygones be bygones’.

Bhajan Lal would have still remained with the Congress if his loyal and obedient son, Kuldeep, an MP or even the ‘renegade’ Chander Mohan, the other son who is a minister in the Hooda government, had been elevated to the chief minister’s post. Now it has to be seen how long does it take before the 77-year-old Bishnoi leader regains the throne with the help of the Haryana Janhit Party.

Haryana is one state where the space for opposition to the Congress is rather limited. It has been largely occupied by the Devi Lal family, now led by former chief minister, Om Prakash Chautala. The BJP does have a presence in the state but it is not the same force as Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal. It is possible that Bhajan Lal as leader of an opposition party may also have to fight the fast rising star of Dalits, Mayawati, and her BSP apart from the INLD and the BJP.

Like the other two ‘Lals’, the political career of Bhajan Lal has been marked by controversies and allegations of corruption. He successfully fought the charges against him though he may not have been able to remove all the mud that had been constantly thrown at him. That will be a disadvantage for him since he and his son have made ‘corruption’ a rallying point against the Hooda government.

It has to be conceded that despite an occasional setback in his political career he has emerged as one of the shrewdest politicians of Haryana. He always had a flock of loyal members. He has organisational abilities and he showed them by getting a massive crowd for announcing the birth of his own party right in the Hooda bastion. He is well versed in the art of manipulating the Aya Rams and Gaya Rams, Haryana’s original gift to the nation.

In other words his poaching abilities will be a danger for the Congress in the state. Of course, he cannot assume that all critics of the Hooda government will gather under his umbrella. What may work to his advantage is that the Haryana voter, like voters in most other states, is rather fickle and keeps shifting party allegiance in almost every assembly poll.

All that may not be enough for Bhajan Lal to emerge as a formidable challenger to the Congress or the INLD in the state. As in most other states, caste plays a big role in Haryana politics. The Jats are generally believed to be the most influential community in Haryana. While the INLD leadership is almost entirely in the hands of the Jats, the Congress appeal among the Jats springs from the (Jat) chief minister. Bhajan Lal is known as a leader of the Bishnois who are no match to the Jats in political reach and influence.

- Syndicate Features -

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