The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chautala blitz to keep Devi Lal name alive

Chandigarh, Oct. 20: If Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati can justify the installation of statues of B.R. Ambedkar and name parks and roads in his name all over the state, can the Indian National Lok Dal, an NDA partner, and Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, be left far behind'

While Mayawati is being criticised for naming anything and everything after Ambedkar, Chautala has been silently zipping across his tiny state, naming even family planning measures after his father and kisan leader, former deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.

The number statues of Devi Lal being erected and unveiled by Chautala has invited criticism from Opposition parties in the state.

Former chief minister Bhajan Lal has threatened to demolish all statues and rename institutions, bhawans and parks named after Devi Lal when he comes to power.

Even as Chautala steers his state to a silicon-chip future, he has not forgotten Devi Lal and the Jat leader’s struggle for the rights of farmers. Most of the crossings on the national and major highways in the state sport either a portrait or a statue of Devi Lal. Even in the middle of nowhere. Even a school inauguration is being followed by the unveiling of a bust of the late kisan leader.

The chief minister also makes it a point to mention Devi Lal in each speech he makes. Even during Cabinet meetings.

Sample this: an 18-feet-tall statue of Devi Lal on the crossing of the Loharu-Charkhi Dadri at Bhiwani, “the tallest ever installed in the state”, a Jan Nayak Heritage Complex at Manesar and a hostel-cum-restaurant in Gurgaon, a Rs 1 lakh Kisan Puruskar and a Chaudhary Devi Lal Rural Library Scheme too.

This is not all. Senior government officials whisper that Chautala has in the pipeline corporate plazas, hotels, pleasure parks, musical foundations, theatres, auditoriums, botanical garden, traffic parks, sports complexes and casinos ----- whenever they are opened in the state ------ waiting to be announced or renamed after Devi Lal. Other civic amenities being planned to carry Devi Lal’s name include residential colonies, sugar mills, cooperative buildings and power plants. Even a modern jail complex near Bhondsi. Even nursery schools.

This is not all. As part of the Chautala government’s efforts to promote the one-child norm and check the declining sex ratio, the government has announced a scheme, the “Devi Lal Rashtriya Uthan Evm Parivar Kalyan Yojana”, providing cash incentive of Rs 500 per month to couples accepting

a terminal method of family planning.

Chautala has termed Bansi Lal’s criticism on his Devi Lal naming and statue unveiling spree as similar to the “Taliban mentality” which destroyed the Bamyan Buddhas. In his defence, the chuef minister nonchalantly states that Bansi Lal had named universities, tourist resorts and lakes after the names of ICS officers and he was not doing anything wrong. “Bansi Lal will never come to power in Haryana again, nor would he be able to demolish the statues. The people will not allow their demolition,” Chautala states and marches on unfazed on his daily routine of naming institutions and unveiling busts of the Jat leader.


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