NEW DELHI – The BJP is all set to form a new government in Haryana after clinching an alliance with the Jannayak Janata Party, which won 10 seats in the 90-member assembly, by giving it the post of deputy chief minister.
BJP president Amit Shah announced at a press conference, held with JJP leader Dushyant Chautala, that the chief minister will be from his party and the deputy chief minister from the regional party.
Incumbent Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is likely to be elected the BJP legislative party leader at a meeting in Chandigarh on Saturday and will then stake claim before the governor to form the government. Chautala is likely to be his deputy, sources said.
“Going by the mandate of the voters of Haryana, leaders of both parties have decided that BJP and JJP will form the government together. The chief minister will be from the BJP and deputy chief minister will be from the JJP,” Shah told reporters.
The alliance is in line with the “spirit” of people’s mandate, he added.
Shah and Chautala were also joined by Khattar and other BJP leaders at the press conference.
Chautala said his party believed the alliance was necessary for stability in Haryana.
The BJP’s decision to win over Chautala underlines its quest to placate Jats, a dominant community in the state who are believed to have voted mostly against the saffron party in the recent polls, to ensure a smooth run of its government.
Khattar said both the parties had worked together in the past.
Sources said Shah had spoken to Chautala even before the results were out, following inputs that the BJP might not get a majority on its own.
Top BJP leaders moved swiftly since Thursday night to cobble together a majority in Haryana after the party’s tally fell to 40 in the state, six short of the majority mark. Most of the seven independent MLAs have also pledged their support to the party.
Majority of the independent MLAs are BJP rebels and several of them have given their letters of support to Khattar during a meeting at the residence of the party’s working president, JP Nadda, in the national capital.
The saffron party faced flak after controversial MLA Gopal Kanda, an accused in two abetment-to-suicide cases, announced his support to its bid to form the government in Haryana.
Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti appealed to her party not to forget its moral goals, a suggestion that it should not be seeking Kanda’s support for forming government.
Apparently on the defensive, senior BJP leaders ensured that they were not seen with Kanda even as other Independent MLAs were seen moving in and out of Nadda’s residence after announcing their support to the saffron party.
BJP’s Haryana in-charge Anil Jain said the party’s top brass would take a call on the controversial MLA’s support.
BJP leaders are also confident of lone Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLA Abhay Chautala’s support to its government.
Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman and BJP general secretary Arun Singh will attend Saturday’s legislative party meeting as central observers, Jain said.
Cong slams JJP, says will remain ‘B-team’ of BJP
With the BJP and the Jannayak Janata Party declaring that they will form a coalition government in Haryana, the Congress on Friday said it was now out in the open that the Dushyant Chautala-led JJP was and will remain the “B-team” of the BJP.
The opposition party’s sharp attack came soon after it became clear that the BJP was set to form the new government in Haryana after clinching an alliance with the JJP, which has won 10 seats in the 90-member assembly, by giving it the post of deputy chief minister.
BJP president Amit Shah announced at a press conference, held with JJP leader Chautala, that the chief minister will be from his party and the deputy chief minister from the regional party.
Hitting out at the alliance, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it was now out in the open that the “JJP-Lok Dal (INLD) were, and will always be, the BJP’s B-team”.
“When the BJP wants to gain power by dividing the society, sometimes Raj Kumar Saini and sometimes the JJP-Lok Dal will stand as a puppet,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
The public has now come to know the reality, he said.
Surjewala also claimed that it was truth that the Khattar government has not been given the mandate by the people.
“It is also true that the JJP asked for people’s mandate against the BJP and won 10 seats,” he said in a series of tweets.
It is also true that the JJP promised that it will never align with the BJP, Surjewala said.
He accused the JJP of choosing power over promises.
Earlier in the day, Surjewala accused the saffron party of using allurements of money and power to get a majority and said a government formed through such means would be “illegitimate”.
A row erupted after Haryana Lokhit Party leader and Sirsa MLA Gopal Kanda, accused of abetment to suicide, claimed he and the Independents have “decided to extend unconditional support to the BJP”.
Lashing out at the BJP for taking Kanda’s support, Surjewala told reporters, “I think you should look at the statements made by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at the time when Gopal Kanda was a minister in the (Congress) government in Haryana when we forced him to resign after registration of a case and also removed him from ministership.”
“What was the stance of the BJP then and what sort of doublespeak is the BJP doing today,” he said, accusing the saffron party of displaying “hunger for power”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been decisively rejected and those who said they will get a 75-seat mandate have not even touched the majority mark, Surjewala said.
“They (the BJP) have no right to form a government. Defections are coming to play with allurements of money and power and of positions in government being the sole criteria for forming a government in Haryana,” he alleged.
Asked about the narrow margins of defeat of some Congress candidates and recount at some seats in Haryana, Surjewala said, “We all knew how money and muscle power and the ruling dispensation used the entire machinery to help certain candidates and the medium of recounting was used to defeat four-five Congress candidates.”
“Whatever they may do, finally democracy has prevailed and democracy has spoken. BJP has not been given a mandate to rule. Any government that the BJP forms will be an illegitimate and illegally constituted government,” he added.
The ruling BJP emerged the largest party with 40 seats, six short of the halfway mark needed to form the next government, while the Congress bagged 31 seats. With no real clear winner, the seven Independents and the Jannayak Janta Party with 10 seats hold the key to power in the state.
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Haryana Lokhit Party bagged one seat each.