BJP seals deal with JJP, to form govt in Haryana

 Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah. PTI Photo

BJP is set to form the government in Haryana despite falling short of a majority after it sealed a deal with Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) on Friday night by offering Deputy Chief Minister's post to Dushyant Chautala, the leader of Jat-dominated party.

In Maharashtra where Shiv Sena has raised the demand for 50:50 sharing of power, sources said there is a demand that the decisions should be taken at the highest level between BJP chief Amit Shah and his Shiv Sena counterpart Uddhav Thackeray and it should not be left to state leaders.
 

The announcement of the Haryana deal was made by Shah late in the night after Dushyant drove to his residence for a meeting with him and other senior BJP leaders, including Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

BJP, which had won 47 out of 90 seats in the 2014 Assembly polls to form the government, had slid to 40 MLAs this time and needed at least six more to form the government. With JJP's 10 MLAs and "several of (seven) independents" offering support, BJP will now stake claim before Haryana Governor Satyadev Narayan Arya to form a government on Saturday.

The saffron party's decision to enter into a post-poll alliance with JJP also came as it is said to be facing the anger among Jat community spread across Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. With Delhi polls set to be held in a couple of months, BJP expects it will have an impact on Jat voters in the national capital where the party wants to dislodge Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP from power.

The decision on Haryana alliance came after a series of negotiations BJP leadership had with JJP and independents since Thursday after the results showed that it was nowhere near the target of winning over 75 seats in the 90-member Assembly it had set.

"Accepting the mandate, leaders of both parties decided that BJP-JJP will form the government together in Haryana. The Chief Minister will be from BJP and Deputy Chief Minister will be from the JJP," Shah told reporters after the meeting. The 31-year-old Dushyant is all set to become the Deputy Chief Minister while Khattar is likely to continue as Chief Minister.

He said the BJP Legislature Party will meet in Chandigarh on Saturday and elect its leader following which they will start the procedure for forming the government. Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman and BJP general secretary Arun Singh will attend Saturday's legislative party meeting as central observers.

Khattar said they would be meeting the Governor on Saturday itself after the legislature party elected its leader. The swearing-in of the new government is likely to be held only after Diwali.

Dushyant, who held meetings with his newly-elected MLAs and National Executive members here earlier in the day, said, it was important for both the BJP and JJP to come together to give a stable government. "I would like to thank Amit Shah and (BJP working president J P) Nadda. Our party had decided that for the betterment of the state it is important to have a stable government," he said.

When asked how many independents have offered support, Khattar did not give a number but said, "several of them are supporting the BJP." 

After falling short of a majority, the BJP leadership had on Thursday night itself started efforts to cobble up the majority with Shah himself taking the lead by speaking to Dushyant. JJP is also likely to get a couple of ministers and talks are on about portfolios.

Earlier in the day, Khattar arrived in Delhi and held meetings with at least five independents in Haryana Bhavan before holding discussions with Nadda and BJP general secretary in-charge of Haryana Anil Jain. 

BJP faced flak during the day as it sought to enlist the support of controversial HLP leader and MLA Gopal Kanda, who was accused in cases of abetment of suicide and tax fraud. As the day progressed, sources said the BJP was not keen to enlist the support of Kanda, who was instrumental in helping BJP to reach out to independents.

BJP sources said they were also confident of lone Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLA Abhay Chautala's support to its government.

Earlier in the day, the JJP National Executive also decided to go with BJP and authorised Dushyant and JJP Haryana president Nishan Singh to hold negotiations. When asked whether they would go with Congress, a senior JJP leader said that Congress will have to show numbers and it was not in a position to form a government.

Addressing a press conference in the afternoon, Dushyant also indicated that he was not averse to doing business with the BJP by saying that "no one is untouchable to us". 

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