Despite the election result going down to the wire in Haryana, the BJP has managed to put together an alliance government in the northern state within 48 hours. A deal in Maharashtra, however, eludes the saffron party, with no clear statement yet from the BJP-Sena alliance on government formation.
Adding to the political suspense is the Maharashtra Congress statement hinting that it may offer support to a Sena government. Hectic parleys are on in all camps with the Shiv Sena leadership scheduled to hold a meeting of its newly elected MLAs in Matoshree at noon. Maharashtra Congress president Balasaheb Thorat, meanwhile, is likely to meet NCP chief Sharad Pawar in Baramati. One of the likely scenarios to emerge in Maharashtra is that of a Sena-NCP-Congress government.
Incumbent Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is likely to be elected the BJP legislative party leader at a meeting in Chandigarh today and will then stake claim before the governor to form the government. Chautala is likely to be his deputy. “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,” Amit Shah told reporters.
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.
In Maharashtra the BJP’s job is all about placating its ally Sena. Though the saffron alliance has won a comfortable majority by winning 161 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, the BJP’s dependence on its partner is much more now as it won only 105 seats against the 122 it has in the outgoing assembly.
Sena’s tally also fell to 56 from 63 but its clout has increased due to the more crucial role it will have in the stability of the future NDA government. Thackeray on Thursday had reminded the BJP about the formula arrived at during his meeting with Shah ahead of Lok Sabha polls, and said they had decided on a fifty-fifty formula for the alliance in the state.
“We agreed to contest fewer seats (than the BJP), but I cannot accommodate the BJP every time. I should allow my party to grow,” Thackeray said. Keeping up the heat on its senior partner, Sena in its mouthpiece said there was no “maha janadesh” as the BJP had claimed before the results were announced and that the outcome was in fact a rap on the knuckles for those high on “arrogance of power”.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut posted a cartoon that shows a tiger (his party’s symbol) wearing a clock locket (NCP’s party symbol) sniffing a lotus (BJP’s party symbol).
Though he indicated that the cartoon was posted in jest, the message was not lost on anyone as Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan had said earlier that his party should explore all options to keep the BJP out of power. The Congress has an alliance with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP in the state.