Will Chautalas smoke the peace pipe ahead of polls?

Will Chautalas smoke the peace pipe ahead of polls?

OM Prakash Chautala

Indications suggest that the estranged Chautala family might just bury the hatchet in a bid to consolidate and keep its political outfit, the beleaguered Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), afloat with assembly elections around the corner.

The INLD is battling an existential crisis after the Chautala family split this year owing to a feud between the two sons of former Haryana chief minister OM Prakash Chautala. Former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, a close friend of the Chautala family, is attempting to broker peace between the warring factions. The ‘peace move’ for now appears a tall order, sources said.

Today at the condolence ceremony held in Sirsa in Haryana to pay homage to OP Chautala’s wife who passed away a few days ago, Badal publicly asked the family to unite. He said any sacrifice should be made to ensure that the family stays together like before.

Both the INLD and the new political outfit, the JJP, carved out of the castaway faction led by Chautala’s elder son Abhay Chautala, bit the dust in the recently concluded general elections. The INLD failed to win any seat and lost a major vote share. The split in the family has cost the party dearly.

Out of the 19 MLAs the Lok Dal had in 2014, the party is left with just 4 MLAs. As many as nine of its MLAs have joined the BJP, while four have publicly announced allegiance with the JJP.

For the Chautala-led INLD, it’s a do-or-die situation. The senior Chautala, serving a decade-long prison term in Tihar jail in a corruption case, is currently out on three weeks' parole. 

Uniting of both the factions could be the last resort for the Chautalas to stay afloat, lest they walk into oblivion until next polls. Sources said that the two parties were struggling to find formidable candidates for the upcoming elections.

Before Chautala’s wife passed away, the JJP and Mayawati’s BSP forged an alliance. In case the family comes together, the BSP is likely to consider a bigger alliance in Haryana by taking on board other political outfits.