Jail or bail, Chautala laughs all the way to his vote bank

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 10, 2014 Published on October 10, 2014

The legal wrangle may be a booster shot for his party

Former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala’s impending incarceration at the end of Assembly elections is largely perceived in political circles as beneficial to his party’s electoral prospects.

On the day Chautala was ordered to be sent back to jail by the Delhi High Court, which also barred him from further campaigning in the State, most politicians were convinced the move will be a “booster shot” for his party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).

His son Abhay Chautala went to the extent of suggesting that his father will “run the government from jail”.

While that may be an improbability given the Supreme Court’s judgement barring convicted persons from holding public offices, there is some ground for Abhay’s confidence.

Chautala was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by a Delhi court in January 2013 for illegally recruiting 3,206 JBT teachers in the State 13 years back.

But he was granted bail in May 2014, purportedly owing to a heart condition. He has, however, been campaigning for the Assembly elections in Haryana, due on October 15.

Chautala has been asked to go back to prison on October 17, two days after Haryana votes.

Playing martyr

So not only did he manage to campaign almost till the last leg of electioneering, Chautala also played the martyr in his campaign rallies.

“I have ignored the doctors and everyone else to save Haryana,” he maintained in almost all his rallies. According to political observers, his going back to jail only generates further sympathy for the INLD.

“The investigating agencies allowed a patient allegedly suffering from heart ailments to hold political rallies across the State till now. Why object now when the campaigning is almost over? Chautala was allowed to make political capital out of a scam,” Congress leader and former Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tiwari told BusinessLine.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed maintained that Chautala had pretended to be ill in order to escape prison and capitalise on his incarceration.

Congress charge

“Chautala is 80 plus. He is out on bail on the ground of illness. He travels usually by air ambulance, but he addresses 31 meetings in one day.

“People much younger than OP Chautala get exhausted by addressing a mere five to six meetings a day. I think the subject of his ill health is such a mystery that it is not the doctors but only the CBI which can figure out what ails him,” said Ahmed.

Published on October 10, 2014
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