Chandigarh: On the back foot after a feud in the Chautala clan led to a split in the party and the BSP deserted it, the INLD is trying to woo the BJP, a former ally, as it looks to reverse fortunes in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were coalition partners in the erstwhile Om Prakash Chautala-led government (1999-2005).
Led by Om Prakash Chautala, who is serving a 10-year jail term in teachers' recruitment scam case with his elder son Ajay Singh Chautala, the INLD has been going through a rough patch over the past few years.
The party, which is now virtually spearheaded by Om Prakash Chautala's younger son Abhay Singh Chautala, is looking to make a comeback after having lost three consecutive Assembly polls since 2005.
"We have sent feelers to the BJP high command. While they want that the INLD and the BJP should come together, there is some resistance from their state unit," senior INLD leader and sitting MLA Parminder Dhull told PTI.
Abhay Chautala's elder son Karan Chautala had recently said at the INLD's state executive body meeting in Jhajjar that his grandfather wanted to know whether the party workers favoured an alliance with the BJP.
"Chautala sahab has sent a letter addressed to the party workers and he wants to know whether you want to see green (colour of INLD flag) and saffron (colour of BJP flag) together again," he had said at the meeting.
In Haryana's biggest political spectacle last year, the INLD split in November after a bitter power struggle between Ajay Chautala and Abhay Chautala.
The feud saw Ajay Chautala and his sons Dushyant and Digvijay being expelled from the Haryana-based party by Chautala Senior.
The trigger was a party rally in Gohana in October when the supporters of Dushyant Chautala and Digvijay Chautala hooted at their uncle Abhay Chautala.
In December, Dushyant Chautala, the MP from Hisar, launched the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) and the 30-year-old's supporters are even projecting him as the next chief minister.
The Jind bypolls, which were held in January this year after the death of the INLD's sitting MLA Hari Chand Middha, brought more bad news for the party.
It suffered a humiliating defeat, with its candidate Umed Singh Redhu forfeiting his security deposit.
Days later, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) called off its nearly nine-month-old alliance with the INLD.
In another setback for the Haryana-based party, two of its former MLAs — Rajbir Singh and Buta Singh, and senior leader and sitting MLA from Nalwa in Hisar, Ranbir Gangwa, joined the BJP this month.
Four other sitting legislators of the opposition party, including Ajay Chautala's wife Naina, are supporting the fledgling JJP.
Out of 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, the BJP holds seven, the Congress has one and the INLD has two — Sirsa and Hisar. However, Hisar MP, Dushyant Chautala, has already parted ways with the party.
Asked about the crisis that the INLD finds itself in after the recent developments, Dhull said, "We will overcome this challenge and people will back us."
Snubbing the INLD's overtures, the BJP's state unit asserted that the party would go it alone in Haryana.
Referring to Chautala Senior's letter to party workers, Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala said, "We have thrown such letters into the dustbin. We are going to fight the polls on our own."
State minister Om Prakash Dhankar too echoed similar sentiments.
"The BJP will fight the polls on its own strength," he said.