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Misleading signals emanate from INLD camp

By Rajesh Ahuja

CHANDIGARH, FEB.18. The Haryana Chief Minister and Indian National Lok Dal supremo, Om Prakash Chautala, appears to be blowing hot and cold towards the Bharatiya Janata Party after the rupture of ties between the two former alliance partners.

Haryana-watchers here say that misleading signals are emanating from the INLD camp with Mr.Chautala bitterly criticising the BJP and the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and accusing them of meting out a step-motherly treatment to Haryana one moment but in the next moment asserting that he holds Mr.Vajpayee in high esteem and that the INLD and the BJP would be contesting the parliamentary elections as a "friendly match''.

Much significance is also being attached to Mr.Chautala's comments that the INLD would never support the Congress in Parliament and the choice would ultimately lie with him whether to extend conditional support to the Vajpayee regime if it is re-elected or even to some third force which emerges in the new Parliament. Observers feel that Mr.Chautala maybe resorting to obvious pressure tactics to send a message to the BJP High Command that it cannot achieve much in Haryana without the crutches of the INLD as the other regional party— the Haryana Vikas Party has decided not to join the BJP bandwagon at present.

As things stand today, the INLD executive which met at Bhiwani today has not only authorised Mr.Chautala to select the candidates for the 10 Lok Sabha seats but according to insiders the Jat leader seems to have already shortlisted the probables and the names would be formally announced at a rally at Jhajjar on March 2. Significantly, the Chautala regime completes four years on March 2.

The INLD appears to be fully geared up to launch its poll campaign from March 2 and Mr.Chautala will undertake a whirlwind tour of all the 90 Assembly constituencies by March 13. According to highly-placed sources, the main purpose would be to counter the visit of the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, who is slated to undertake a road show of eight out of 10 Lok Sabha constituencies on February 28 and 29, and to expose the BJP and highlight why the alliance fell through. The INLD leaders and workers have been directed to also criticise the "feel good factor'' being touted by the BJP and publicly highlight the developmental activities undertaken by the Chautala regime.

Mr.Chautala has accused the BJP of hobnobbing with the Congress in the State and charged that the State President of the BJP, Ganeshi Lal, had visited the Congress MLA, Jai Prakash, who was sitting on dharna outside the Vidhan Sabha. Sources close to the powers that be also talk about the moves being made by the BJP to rope in Mr.Jai Prakash for the Hisar seat.

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