The results of the state Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra might have belied expectations of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sweep, but on Friday the party looked set to form governments in both states.
Haryana: Close call
In Haryana, where the BJP won 40 seats — five short of the halfway mark in the 90-seat Assembly — it is expected to overcome the shortfall with five Independent members of Legislative Assembly announcing their support to the ruling party.
Independent candidates Dharampal Gondan, Nayanpal Rawat, Sombir Sangwan, Rakesh Daulatabad, and Randheer Golan met BJP working chief J P Nadda in New Delhi. Ranjeet Chautala also extended his support to the ruling party. BJP leaders said Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala will also back it.
Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) chief Dushyant Chautala spurned overtures from the Congress to indicate his party’s support to the BJP. The JJP has won 10 seats in polls, results for which were declared on Thursday.
The BJP legislative party meeting will be held on Saturday. Party chief Amit Shah has appointed Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and senior leader Arun Singh as observers.
There was speculation on whether Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar would continue, but party sources said he was unlikely to be removed immediately.
He is likely to stake claim to form the government on Saturday, while oath taking will take place after Diwali (October 27).
But, the party also faced major criticism on Friday for taking support from Haryana Lokhit Party founder Gopal Kanda. By evening BJP sources said Kanda, an accused in criminal cases, will not find a place in the new council of ministers.
Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti appealed to her party to not forget its moral goals. “Whether Kanda is a criminal or innocent will be decided by the courts but he cannot be absolved of his crime because he has won an election,” Bharti tweeted.
Maharashtra: Shiv Sena’s strong stance
Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut on Friday posted a cartoon on social media taking a dig at the BJP. It shows a tiger, Shiv Sena’s symbol, wearing a locket with a clock, the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP’s) symbol, sniffing a lotus, the BJP’s symbol.
The picture is captioned: “Bura na maano, Diwali hai (Don’t mind, it’s Diwali)”. The message, however, is that the NCP, the Congress and the Shiv Sena could get together to prevent the BJP from returning to power.
The Shiv Sena is likely to be tame ally. It wants a 50-50 formula to rotational chief ministers for the state, and wants its young leader Aaditya Thackeray, given his administrative inexperience, the deputy chief minister’s job for the first two-and-a-half years.
With the BJP falling 40 short of the majority mark of 145 in the 228-strong House, an editorial in Sena’s Saamana on Friday ridiculed the “maha janadesh” tour that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had undertaken during his poll campaign.
The editorial said people had rejected the notion that elections can be swept by engineering defections and splitting Opposition parties. It said the “BJP broke the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)” in such a manner in run-up to elections that people wondered if the Sharad Pawar-led party had any future. “But the NCP bounced back crossing the 50-seat mark, while a leaderless Congress won 44 seats. The results were a warning to rulers not to show arrogance of power... it’s a rap on their knuckles.”
On Janata Dal (United)’s drubbing in the bypolls on five seats in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said his party is replete with by-election debacles followed by spectacular performance in the state polls. Bihar Assembly polls are in October next year. The JD(U) held four of the five seats, but could win only one.
In Lucknow, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati blamed the BJP for her party drawing a blank in the 11 seats that had by-polls. She said the BJP helped Samajwadi Party win some seats.
In the bypolls to 11 Assembly seats, the BJP and its ally Apna Dal(S) bagged eight and the SP three.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said the decision by Opposition parties to go solo in the Uttar Pradesh by-polls helped expose the BJP’s “darker side” and effectively conveyed message of its “failure”.