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Dushyant ’s JJP may hold key to Jat votes

​​From Tohana constituency in Sirsa to Nangal Chaudhary in Mahendragarh, his 11-monthold Jannayak Janta Party is in fight, Chautala claims. As he moves through villages, he is greeted by enthusiastic party cadres who insist he has tea with them.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 19, 2019, 07.00 AM IST
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Khatkar |Narnaund (Haryana): “He is staying at Bhoop’s house,” a college student shouts as he boards a bus early in the morning in Khatkar, a nondescript village in Uchana Kalan constituency where former MP and Jannayak Janta Party convenor Dushyant Chautala is taking on BJP minister Birender Singh’s wife Prem Lata.

Finding Bhoop’s house in the village is not difficult. About 80-odd people have been camping outside in shamianas and waiting the entire night to meet Chautala, the young leader whose fledgling party is fighting its first assembly election.

He is riding on motorcycles through villages in his constituency to meet people, staying at a local’s home, and sometimes even driving through the night. He reached Khatkar at 4.30 am and is ready to leave by 9 am. “I am confident that we will be the ‘key’ to Chandigarh,” Chautala tells ET, alluding to his election symbol. He brushes aside any suggestions of his party’s limited appeal in Jat belt.

“Remember when Afghanistan debuted in cricket world cup? Nobody thought they could play, and they reached the quarterfinals. We are also a young party. You would be surprised how well we do in assembly elections,” he says.

From Tohana constituency in Sirsa district to Nangal Chaudhary in Mahendragarh district, his 11-monthold party is in fight, Chautala claims. As he moves through Uchana Kalan villages, he is greeted by enthusiastic party cadres who insist he has tea with them. “Later…after you make me win,” he tells them. Chautala’s JJP is being seen as the real inheritor of his great grandfather Devi Lal’s political legacy despite his grandfather OP Chautala favouring his uncle Abhay Chautala in the family’s internal rift, which led to the split in INLD and Chautala floating JJP.

Just an hour’s drive away, in Narnaund, the constituency of BJP’s Jat leader and finance minister Captain Abhimanyu, the streets are teeming with tractors driving to Chautala’s public meeting. The streets are jammed as
locals await his arrival by chopper.

Satender Jat, a native of Petwad village in Narnaund, says, “It will be JJP this time. He has been working for us. Not
just the youth but even elder ones like me see some hope for us.” Behind him, a wall writing reflects the mood, “Dushyant nahin kamaal hai, doosra Devi Lal hai.” Chautala, however, doesn’t see any inheritance in this show of faith.

“Nobody can inherit love, trust and affection of the people. It is earned,” he says. “Our results in Jind by-election and
Lok Sabha have proven to us who have people chosen. INLD’s vote share went from 20% to 2% in Lok Sabha, but ours increased.”

Women wearing green and bright yellow scarves, the party’s colours, loudly declare their support to JJP in Safidon, another constituency where Chautala says he is going strong. “He is not a time pass neta,” says Sharmila. “He was not in power and even then he got facilities for this region. Khattar (chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar) is a Punjabi
from the other side. He will never work for us.” JJP had not expected to field candidates across 90 constituencies.

However, the party has managed to pitch strong candidates. Former Congress leader Ashok Tanwar has been the latest addition. “It was too late for him to fight on our symbol,” Chautala says.“ Both of us are young leaders who were creating a nursery of youth leaders in the state. But the way he was treated was shameful, so we spoke and he decided to lend support.”

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