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Rise of the Choudhry clans

The politics of Haryana has always been colourful and interesting right from the time it attained the status of a separate state carved out of Punjab on 1 November 1966.  Haryana was the first state in the country to experiment with a non- Congress coalition government headed by a splinter group and devise the nomenclature of Aya Rams and Gaya Rams to symbolise trading of the legislators and four time desertion and defection by a legislator in a single day. The state has produced towering politicians like Devi Lal, Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal, popularly known as the three Lals of Haryana. The politics used to revolve around them.   All three have passed aways, though their clans have been calling shots.

A notice was recently issued by the Honourable High Court of Punjab and Haryana to the Hooda government on a yet-to-be unveiled, newly-installed statue of the late Choudhry Ranbir Singh Hooda, a freedom fighter, member of the constituent assembly, member of the   Assembly and Parliament and senior minister in the united Punjab and above all the father of the Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.   The court issued the notice on a petition filed by a local resident against the installation of the fourth statute and removal of the other three statutes already installed in Rohtak.  It is understood that the petitioner stated that installation of the statutes of the father of the Chief Minister and naming large number of the institutions after the late leader seems to be an overdose and also born of vested interests to gain a political mileage in times to come.  The district administration has removed the newly-nstalled unveiled statute even before any order being passed by the court.  Chaudhry Ranbir Singh Hooda expired on 1 February 2005, during the Chief Ministerial tenure of Hooda.  While moving across the state, one may feel that CM Hooda  has observed restraint in installing statues of his late father. This is because he has not installed as many statues as were installed during the regime of  O P Chautala as the Chief Minister after the demise of another towering personality Choudhry Devi Lal.

Devi Lal was one of the most influential Lals of Haryana who rose to become the Deputy Prime Minister of the country and even narrowly missed a chance to become the Prime Minister.  One may remember, he declined the offer and proposed the name of V P Singh as the new Prime Minister during the days of the Janta Dal.  Devi Lal dared to make a public announcement in Kurukshetra by beating an empty ghee tin after lifting of the emergency as all were scared of the emergency sufferings and none was willing to make the announcement of the rally to be addressed by JP.   The same tin-beater Devi Lal became the Chief Minister after the Assembly election.  He led a number of mass agitations which resulted in the desired political results.  Devi Lal would always be remembered as a versatile political strategist and mentor of a large number of leaders.  He expired on 6 April 2001 when his son O P Chautala was holding the post of the Chief Minister of Haryana.  Chautala keen to capitalise on the towering image of the undisputed leader of the farmers and the Jats, ordered mass installation of the statutes of Devi Lal across the city.  One may come across the life size statutes and Tau Devi Lal parks along the GT road in all cities and towns.  The large magnificent parks and other institutions named after the great leader Tau Devi Lal were developed during the regime of Chautala as the Chief minister.  

It would, of course, be an insult to the departed leader if one may cite the gross misuse of the state exchequer.  Anyhow, not even a single statue was installed after demitting the post of the Chief Minister by Chautala.

The other two Lals -  Bansi Lal and  Bhajan Lal also became Chief Ministers and adorned the post of Union Minister. Both Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal held the post of chief minister more than once i.e. thrice and that too while remaining in two different parties.  Bhajan Lal dethroned Janta Party chief minister Devi Lal after taking majority of the MLAs of the ruling party on a Bharat Darshan.   

Bhajan Lal along with his Ministers and Janta Party MLAs joined the Congress Party led by Indira Gandhi to retain his post as the Congress Chief Minister.  He remained Chief Minister for 3,952 days at a stretch, whereas Bansi Lal remained in power for 3,538 days at a stretch. He first became Chief Minister on 22 May 1968 when he was termed as a novice in the political circles and was an unknown figure. However, he turned out to be the strongest man of Haryana. He was the Congress CM and also BJP –HVP coalition CM. Both Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal are no more , but their statutes are not visible in Haryana as their sons were not Chief Ministers at the time of the demise.   

The author is a communication consultant
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