Dushyant Chautala
Image: Dushyant Chautala/ IANS

The Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), which emerged as a kingmaker in the Haryana Assembly elections on Thursday, refused to open its cards as the Congress courted it to form government in the state where the polls have thrown up a hung House. JJP leader Dushyant Singh Chautala said he has called a meeting of the party executive at 11 a.m. on Friday in Delhi to discuss the party's strategy. His comments came amid reports that he was insisting on the chief minister's post as a condition for a post-poll tie-up.

The latest trends showed that no party was in a position to cross the half-way mark in the 90-member Haryana Assembly. Newcomer Jannayak Janata Dal (JJP) was leading in 9 constituencies and may possibly play the kingmaker, along with Independents, who were leading in 6 Assembly segments."I believe the key to the new government is in the hands of the JJP," said Dushyant Chautala earlier in the day as counting trends indicated rapid gains for the Congress, with the BJP not even likely to cross the halfway mark.

Who is Dushyanth Chautala? 

Dushyant Chautala is the great-grandson of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal and grandson of jailed INLD leader O.P. Chautala. JJP's party symbol incidentally is the "Key". The JJP, which is less than a year old, emerged from a split in the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) after infighting among the Chautala clan. Dushyant, who was MP in 2014, formed the new party with his brother Digvijay Chautala.

Dushyant, 31, a Business Administration graduate from California State University, parted ways with the INLD in December 2018 after a bitter vertical split in the party and the Chautala family. Dushyant's father, Ajay Chautala, is the elder son of four-time Chief Minister and INLD President Om Prakash Chautala.

Dushyant Chautala JJP
Image: @jjpofficial/Twitter

The INLD, which ruled the state the last time from 2000 to 2004 and was once the main opposition party in the outgoing government, was divided owing to differences between Ajay and Abhay Chautala. O.P. Chautala decided to remain with the younger son. At an INLD rally at Gohana in October 2018, Abhay Chautala was heckled, for which Dushyant and his younger brother, Digvijay Chautala, were blamed.

Dushyant and Digvijay were expelled from the INLD for allegedly allowing indiscipline at the rally. As their father, Ajay Chautala, supported them, he too was expelled from the INLD. The JJP was formally launched at a rally in Jind on December 2018 by Dushyant. Dushyant's campaign has been focused largely on the youth with a promise of more job opportunities. In contrast, the INLD has relied more on its patriarch Om Prakash Chautala, who after completing his parole went back to jail on October 8.

He is serving a 10-year jail term in Tihar for his involvement in a teacher recruitment scam. Dushyant, who fought on JJP's symbol in the May Lok Sabha polls and finished second, appealed to the voters this time saying, "the JJP is the real representative of the legacy of Devi Lal". "The former Deputy Prime Minister was popular among masses as 'Jannayak' and that is why we have included Jannayak in our party's name," he has said. In the Jind bypoll in January, Dushyant's JJP finished second and Congress national spokesperson Randeep Surjewala finished third. Of the INLD's 19 MLAs, four joined its breakaway faction JJP.