With Haryana set for polls, INLD has no second rung leadership

The absence of a second rung leadership is likely to hurt the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which saw the arrest of its two top leaders party chief and former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and his eldest son Ajay Singh Chautala in the JBT scam on Wednesday. Ajay Singh, the MLA from Mandi Dabwali in Haryana's Sirsa district, takes over party affairs in the absence of his father but his conviction has left a leadership void in the party.

The adverse Delhi High Court judgment could not have come at a worse time as the Chautala's were slowly gaining political momentum in the state that goes to polls in 2014. They now face their worst political test in their careers. The INLD had fared well in the last polls and against all hopes, secured 30 seats in the last Assembly elections. It also had the support of one Akali Dal member. The senior Chautala is currently the Leader of the Opposition but faces a few privilege motions in the Assembly, while his conviction may invite action from the Vidhan Sabha Speaker.

The INLD was ousted from power in 2005, when the Congress won an overwhelming majority and reduced the party's tally to single digits. In 2009, however, despite an impressive showing in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress only managed to secure power with the help Independents after the INLD made major gains.

The party was now attempting to regain power after eight years. Besides the stinging judgment, the INLD has to contend with the BJP-HJC alliance in the next elections. The Chautalas have perennially been plagued by corruption charges with the Congress even preparing and publishing a booklet on their properties.

The Delhi judgement has now handed opponents enough ammunition to attack them with. Not one to miss the opportunity, the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) chief Kuldeep Bishnoi said the court verdict would finish off the Chautalas politically.

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