Everywhere else, this is being seen as the big election that will decide India’s future. But in Haryana, today’s Lok Sabha polls are being considered merely a semi-final.

That’s because the state is slated to hold assembly elections in October, and those polls could end up reorienting the political stage in Haryana after 10 years of Congress rule. So, never mind RaGa vs NaMo, here it’s Hooda vs Chautala vs Bishnoi.

As that three-sided battle makes it evident, the permutations can be quite confusing.

Take the Jat-dominated Indian National Lok Dal, the party set up by Chaudhary Devi Lal, and currently run by his son Om Prakash Chautala and grandson Ajay Chautala. In four of Haryana’s 10 Lok Sabha seats, the Indian National Lok Dal is in a direct fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has allied with the local Haryana Janhit Congress in the state.

Across the border, in Punjab, the BJP is in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal. However, the SAD's "first family", headed by Parkash Singh Badal, has always stuck by the Chautalas. In fact, Badal village lies less than 50km away from Chautala village, with only the state border in between. As a result, the BJP’s allies in Punjab are also campaigning in Haryana for the INLD, even though it is in a direct  confrontation with the BJP in the state.

The INLD has also openly endorsed the BJP’s Narendra Modi for prime minister. “We have an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal in Haryana and Shiromani Akali Dal has an alliance with BJP in Punjab,” the Indian National Lok Dal’s Abhay Chautala told the Hindustan Times. “There is no confusion.”

The Badals have been more active than expected in Haryana because of another quirk of the state’s electoral battles: two of the key players are behind bars. In January 2013, both Om Prakash Chautala and Ajay Chautala were convicted for their involvement in a teacher recruitment scam and sentenced to 10 years in prison. After 10 years out of power, though, this taint might actually end up being a selling point for the party. The baton has fallen to younger leaders in the INLD, like Ajay’s son, the 26-year-old Dushyant Chautala.

Dushyant Chautala is up against the Haryana Janhit Congress’s Kuldeep Bishnoi, a likely chief ministerial candidate in October and also a son of a former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal. Dushyant Chautala has been appealing for sympathy in an attempt to win the Hisar Lok Sabha seat and begin an INLD revival after 10 years out of power.  “Our family is the victim of a well-planned conspiracy,” Dushyant Cuahtala tells crowds at rallies, reading out from a letter written by his 80-year-old grandfather from jail. “If giving jobs is a crime, then we have an old relationship with crime.”

The Aam Aadmi Party had hoped to make an impact in a state where both the Hoodas and the Chautalas seem tainted. It was buoyed by its success next door in Delhi's last assembly elections and because two of its senior leaders — Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav —  are Haryanvi. The state’s major issues, from its skewed gender ratio that has led to bachelors asking for brides in return for votes to concerns about land acquisition and development beyond the Hoodas' hometown of Rohtak, should have given AAP a boost. But the caste-community calculation in the state seems more complex than the party expected. Besides, the Modi wave appears to be real, thanks in no small measure to turncoats.

The BJP is contesting only eight of the state’s 10 Lok Sabha seats (the other two have gone to alliance partner Haryana Janhit Congress’s candidates). Four of its contestants joined the party only in the last year. In fact, the BJP's Gurgaon candidate, Rao Inderjit Singh, who is up against AAP’s best hope, Yogendra Yadav, came over from the Congress just this February.

In the Congress, only the chief minister’s son, Deepender Singh Hooda, seems confident of holding his seat in Rohtak. Others, like Union Minister Kumari Selja, have chosen to take the Rajya Sabha route. Haryana state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar and industrialist-politician Naveen Jindal are the other Congress hopefuls from the state, although the Modi wave arithmetic seems set to work against them.

NDTV-Hansa’s opinion poll gives the BJP 29%of the vote share, with 26% to the Congress and INLD 17%. In terms of seats, the poll projects seven to the BJP and three to the Congress.

Even such a result, with no seats, would effectively be a semi-final victory for the INLD because of the BJP’s weaker assembly organisation and an expectation that the Jats — who moved in substantial numbers to the Hoodas over the last decade — will now return to the Chautalas. That leaves the Chautalas in pole place for the big final in October, even if they’re still behind bars then.