Dushyant Chautala holds the key to power in Haryana
NEW DELHI : The BJP emerged as the single-largest party in the 2019 state Assembly elections. While Congress will end up as the second-largest party, it is the JJP of Dushyant Chautala that is set to play the role of kingmaker.
In the 2014 Haryana Assembly elections, the BJP had won 47 seats to storm to power for the first time in the northern state, while the Congress had to settle for 15. Another major player in the state, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) had won 19 seats, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) one each and the Haryana Janhit Congress won two seats. There were five Independents.
Defying predictions of major exit polls, the Opposition Congress did much better than expected in Haryana. The disarray in the party further, its bitter factionalism, plus the general discontent with Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, ultimately did not come on the way of smashing the BJP’s ‘’Mission 75′ claim.
As it seems, disgruntled Chautala scion, Dushyant Chautala has emerged as the kingmaker in Haryana. His start-up political outfit Jannayak Janata Party has secured crucial 10 seats in Haryana Assembly. The BJP has fallen short of majority by five seats while the Congress doubled its 2014 tally to finish at 30 – well short of the half-way mark.
In this scenario, Dushyant Chautala holds the key to power in Haryana. He could bargain hard with either of the BJP or the Congress. Though, an alliance between Dushyant Chautala’s JJP and the BJP would eliminate other stakeholders in the power-sharing equation, the same cannot be said about the Congress-JJP tie up, if it happens at all.
The Congress, however, does not have any realistic chance of forming government in Haryana without conceding to the demands or conditions put forth by Dushyant Chautala. The BJP, on the other hand, has some other alternatives. The Independent MLAs can prove deciding factor if Dushyant Chautala goes overambitious.
Seven Independent candidates have won in Haryana Assembly election. Five of them are BJP rebels, who contested as Independent candidates after the party denied them tickets.
The BJP then can depend on the INLD’s Abhay Chautala, the lone member of his party to win. If Dushyant Chautala stays away from the BJP, Abhay Chautala would be happy to cooperate with the party. The BJP can also fancy its chance with Gopal Kanda, who is the lone member of his Haryana Lokhit Party to win the election. Gopal Kanda has been a controversial figure in Haryana politics.
Kanda had to resign in 2012 after he hit the national headline for wrong reasons when a former air hostess, Geetika Sharma committed suicide accusing Kanda of sexual harassment. Later, Geetika’s mother Anuradha Sharma committed suicide in 2013 blaming Kanda for the extreme step. He was jailed after Geetika’s suicide and was granted bail from the Delhi High Court only in March 2014. Later, he floated Haryana Lokhit Party.
Meanwhile, Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda today reached out to opposition parties to form an alliance against the BJP government as the Congress, battling infighting and a drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, put up an impressive show in the assembly elections.
Basking in the glory of single-handedly altering the political landscape of Haryana, JJP’s Dushyant Chautala has said his party is ready for an alliance with whoever offers him the chief minister’s chair. The statement follows close on the heels of the Congress reaching out to Chautala with a ‘gathbandhan’ offer as his party gains the lead in 12 seats as indicated by present trends.
In the political mix, trends indicate, it is the BJP that has emerged as the biggest loser. Led by Manohar Lal Khattar, a non-Jat chief minister, the party set a mission of 75 seats but has failed to come close. An irate Amit Shah, BJP chief and Union Home Minister, has summoned Khattar to Delhi, reportedly upset over the chief minister’s ticket distribution that could have played a major role in its embarrassing performance.
The BJP had brought the issue of nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution and national security at the centre of its campaign, with development works of its state governments playing the second fiddle. In 2014, the BJP won 47 seats and the Congress 15 in the northern state, with two Haryana Janhit Congress legislators later merging with it.
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) had 19 seats and the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal one each. There were five independents. Later, two INLD legislators died and barring Abhay Singh Chautala, most other INLD MLAs and prominent leaders switched to the BJP, Congress or JJP. The BJP won the Jind bypoll this year, taking its strength to 48 in the 90-member House.
Meanwhile, PM Narendra Modi hailed “first-time chief ministers” ML Khattar and Devendra Fadnavis for winning people’s mandate despite not even having experience as even as ministers” in his speech at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday.
BJP is leading in 40 seats in the 90-seater State Assembly. CM Khattar said he will approach the Governor to stake claim to form the government. Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said Khattar does not have the moral authority to do so as BJP did not secure majority. It is to be noted that despite emerging as the single-largest party, the BJP has failed to reach the majority mark of 46 seats.
The results showed the ‘Modi-wave’ and nationalism did not guarantee success. Analysts felt the high-pitched campaign on the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir did not move the electorate either.
This was the first test that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP faced after the landslide victory in the 2019 general elections and voters have clearly said the national and state Assembly elections can not be fought using the same political blueprint or strategy.
Despite the Congress’ poor performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, problems at national leadership level and inactive participation by central leaders — Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi — the verdict has shown that the local leadership acted effectively and put up a stellar show.