The ruling BJP-JJP alliance in Haryana is a meeting of parties with selfish motives, INLD leaderOm Prakash Chautala tells TOI in an interview ahead of his mega public event tomorrow in Jind, billed as the ‘comeback rally’ of the former CM who, at 86, is ready for a fresh salvo after completing his 10-year prison term in a teacher recruitment scam. There is every possibility, he says, of mid-term polls in Haryana because of the farmer protests and the Ellenabad assembly bypoll will prove his point. Excerpts from a conversation with Sagrika Kissu.
Q. You recently spoke about creating a Third Front. Have you spoken to other parties?
We have not yet started talking about the Third Front with anyone. Right now, we are preparing for the September 25 Jind rally (to mark the 108th birth anniversary of former CM and family patriarch Devi Lal). After that, we will take the initiative.
Q. You’ve invited prominent opposition leaders as well as BJP ally Nitish Kumar. But the Bihar CM has opted out. Do you think he is reluctant to meet you?
Nitish Kumar has met me earlier, but he can have his own compulsions. His government is running through BJP’s support, so that is one of his compulsions. Another thing is that there are floods in Bihar, so a CM can’t leave his state at this time.
Q. INLD split in your absence in 2018 and your grandson Dushyant Chautala created JJP. How did you react to that?
Those who left our party are in a very bad position right now. Dushyant Chautala did become deputy (CM), but today, his condition is such that he cannot even enter his assembly constituency. People are very angry. Even CM Manohar Lal Khattar couldn’t enter his constituency in Karnal. His chopper was not allowed to land.
Q. Are the doors of a reconciliation open with Dushyant? Have you met him?
Our party is a secular party and fights for the common man’s issues. We are not anyone’s enemy. Those who believe in the idea of our party. Those who believe in the dream of the late Devi Lal and want to fulfil it, we will welcome them. I have not met Dushyant since he left the party.
Q. What do you think of the BJP-JJP alliance?
Two parties met with selfish motives, and when those motives can’t be fulfilled, they will separate. You will find evidence of that in the Ellenabad bypolls. The government is delaying the bypolls under garb of corona. Elections are taking place in other states but not in Haryana because they are afraid that INLD will win with a majority and the alliance will break and that will create chaos in the political ecosystem of the state. There is every possibility of mid-term polls in Haryana. Wait and watch.
Q. The INLD lost ground heavily in the 2019 assembly election. It’s a big challenge for you.
We have not lost ground. The ruling parties (BJP-JJP) have lost ground. In 2005, when our party left office, we had Rs 2000 crore in the treasury. Now, the Haryana government has major debts. People know this. We have received a lot of support from farmers and I am delighted to see that this movement has brought 36 castes together under one umbrella. The BJP has failed.
Q. But rivals are targeting you on corruption. How do you react to that?
I have finished my jail sentence now. It was done to break my party. But I am happy to see that during my absence, my party workers have made my party stronger than ever. There is only one thing on everyone’s tongue today, the future of Indian National Lok Dal.
Q. You shared cordial relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Are you still on the same page?
I had very good personal relations with Modi and I have participated in every oath ceremony of his. But now, because of his policies, I am against him ideologically.
Q. What’s the message you want to send out at the Jind rally?
We don’t want to send out any messages. The day marks the birth anniversary of Late Devi Lal and we celebrate that every year. We want people to take inspiration from him. If anyone has worked for the farmers in this country, it’s Devi Lal.
Q. Given your age, will you still be playing an active role in the party?
This is a party, not a property that can be given to anyone. I will play an active role in the party and those who do good work, we will acknowledge them.