If the Chandila clan is termed as the ‘first family’ of Khyala, a bustling urbanised village in west Delhi, it will not be an exaggeration. The family has been active in electoral politics since 1993 and has even found a mention in the ‘Guinness Book of world record’ for the same.
For the last 20 years, at least one family member has been representing the area either in the Delhi assembly or the municipal corporation.
At present, Dayanand Chandila‘s wife Dhanwanti Chandila and daughter Priya Chandila are contesting from Vishnu Garden and Khyala ward, respectively, on Congress tickets. His daughter-in-law Meenakshi is the party’s contestant from the Rajouri Garden assembly seat where bypoll is scheduled on April 9. She had earlier lost the assembly election from the same seat in 2015.
Dayanand’s electoral trajectory was interrupted in 2013 when he was not allowed to contest polls because a criminal case for attempt to murder and house trespass against him. He was awarded a three-year jail term with three others in a seven-year-old case in 2010. He is out on bail.
A case was registered at the Tilak Nagar police station in December 2003 on a complaint by one Sudesh Chandela, alleging that the accused had tried to kill him. According to the complaint, the accused had attacked Sudesh following a quarrel over lending money to a man.
His wife contested in the assembly poll but lost to BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Manjinder Singh Sirsa. In 2015, Meenakshi also failed to wrest the seat and stood third.
Dayanand was working with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) until 1989 and left the job for active politics seeking inspiration from Chaudhary Taarif Singh, who was then a Janata Dal MP (1989-91) from Outer Delhi parliamentary constituency. He was a non-technical supervisor in the engineering department of the DDA.
“I belong to a family of landlords so money was never an issue for me. I joined politics because I was interested in welfare and growth of my fellow villagers. After sometime, I realised that I should be in the system to achieve my goal. Hence, I contested election for the first time in 1993 from the Vishnu Garden assembly seat but lost,” he said.
Dayanand tasted success in 1997 when he won the municipal election from Vishnu Garden ward as an independent candidate. His wife Dhanwanti had won from the Guru Nanak Nagar ward that year.
For this feat, their names were recorded in Guinness Book as the only married couple to have contested and won from two different wards in the same municipal elections.
“This was the first time a couple had registered victory as independent constants in a metropolitan city,” he said. Both were re-elected to the corporation in 2002, this time as Jharkhand Mukti Morch (JMM)
Later, Dayanand joined the BJP and become an MLA from the Vishnu Garden assembly seat in 2003. The party refused to give ticket to his son Meghraj in municipal bypoll from the Vishnu Garden ward in 2004. He contested independently and was elected.
Ashish Sood, a senior councillor in South Delhi Municipal Corporation and former general secretary, Delhi BJP, said Chandila is an opportunist and promotes his family members to serve his purpose. “He left BJP when he was denied ticket. He joined Congress as the party suits his style of politics — promoting nepotism. He does not let his workers grow. When he could not contest because of the criminal case, he fielded his wife,” he said.
However, Dayanand said his family member continued winning because they have worked a lot the area.
“As a large portion of my constituency was unauthorised colonies, no MLA or councillor fund could be used for the development work. Here, my experience as DDA official came to my rescue, I managed funds from the urban development minister,” he said.
He claimed that during his tenure as an MLA, several parks and gardens were redeveloped with fountains and the drainage network was rehabilitated. “Around 135 drain points and 335 kilometres of sewer line was laid in Khyala ward,” he added.
Residents of the area praised him, saying they need not go to municipal or any other government office to get their complaints resolved.
“He has his own tractor, road cutting machine, and air compressor for garbage removal, road repairing or sewer cleaning. He does not depend on the government equipments,” said David, who lives just a block away from Chandilas’ residence.
In the 2007 municipal elections, Meghraj and his daughter-in-law Meenakshi won Vishnu Garden and Khayal wards as JMM candidates. After political differences, Dayanand joined Congress and became MLA in 2008 from the Rajouri Garden assembly constituency. Meghraj and Meenakshi were again elected to the municipal corporations in 2002 on Congress tickets.
His son Meghraj is not contesting elections this time because he is managing affairs for his family members.