Sentencing today, INLD holds breath

With the Special CBI court in New Delhi set to pronounce the quantum of sentence in the JBT Teachers recruitment scam on Tuesday, the decision is likely to change the course of Haryana politics.

The court will deliver the quantum of sentence against INLD chief and former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, his MLA son Ajay Chautala, Ladwa MLA Sher Singh Badshami and IAS officers Vidya Dhar and Sanjiv Kumar. Kumar is the complainant-turned-accused in the scam.

The tenure of the sentence granted under the Prevention of Corruption Act can vary from one to seven years. Moreover, if the Chautalas get a sentence of two years or more, they would be barred from contesting elections for six years after their sentence ends.

In such a situation, the Chautalas would not be able to contest the 2014 Assembly polls in Haryana. The decision will not only impact the INLD but also the ruling Congress and Kuldeep Bishnoi-led the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC). The votebank of INLD, especially Jats, will be up for grabs. Such a situation can benefit the Congress and the BJP-HJC combine.

Moreover, in the absence of a strong-second line, the INLD is likely to face problems in even keeping it's flock together. No other INLD leader has standing among the masses, as Chautala and his son. The decision will also have its impact on other cases against the Chautalas, especially the once pertaining to amassing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

Congress under Bhupinder Singh Hooda has always focussed on Jats — the dominant caste in Haryana. When the party handed him over the state rejecting the claims of former chief minister Bhajan Lal in 2005, Hooda's one big positive was that he belonged to the Jat community. In 2005, it was for the first time that Congress shook the very roots of Chautalas in Jat dominant areas and won 67 out of a total of 90 Assembly seats in the state.

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