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Controversy and Chautala - old friends meet again

Chandigarh, Jan 22, 2013 (IANS):

Convicted and condemned to prison for 10 years, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) president and former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala is likely to end up spending most of his time fighting court cases.

Chautala, who was sentenced by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in New  Delhi's Rohini Tuesday along with his elder son and INLD secretary general Ajay  Chautala, is no stranger to controversies. His conviction and sentencing  in the JBT (junior basic trained) teachers' recruitment scam in Haryana is, perhaps, the harshest punishment to any big-time politician by any court  in the country.

Chautala, 78, son of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal, remained chief minister of Haryana four times - his tenure spanning from  six days to six years. He remained chief minister for six years (1999-2005) in  two terms.


However, Chautala never enjoyed the same political  status that his father Devi Lal had attained in state and national  politics.

In the present circumstances, Chautala and his son will not be able to contest elections in future until their  conviction is reversed by a higher court.

In the JBT scam, Chautala and others were convicted for bribery charges and tampering with lists to accommodate their favourites and those who had paid money to get recruited as teachers in Haryana's government  schools. The recruitment was done for over 3,200 teachers in 1999-2000, when  Chautala was chief minister.

He and his family are facing trial in two other cases in  Delhi courts. One case is that of disproportionate assets of hundreds of crores  and another one relates to a recruitment scam in the Haryana Civil Services  (HCS).

Even before he became an active politician, Chautala was  disowned by his father Devi Lal after he was allegedly caught at the Delhi  airport in 1977 while trying to smuggle wristwatches worth Rs.100,000.

As chief minister in 1990, Chautala was accused of shielding senior police officer S.P.S. Rathore in the Ruchika Girotra  molestation case. The charge was levelled against Chautala by Ruchika's father.  The girl had committed suicide later.

In 1990, Haryana's Meham assembly seat hit national  headlines owing to large-scale violence as Chautala allegedly tried to force his  victory there. The election on this seat was postponed  thrice.

His sons, Ajay Chautala and Abhay Chautala, have had  their own set of controversies.

Abhay Chautala was in the news recently after he  controversially got elected as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Indian  Boxing Federation (IBF) president. His election led to India being suspended  from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Indian boxers too have been  banned from participating in international events for  now.
Ajay Chautala is facing charges of disproportionate  assets.

The conviction and sentencing in the JBT scam could not  have come at a worse time for the Chautalas and the INLD. The party and its  leaders were already in poll mode for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, which were to  be followed by the Haryana assembly election.

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