Haryana: Khattar to be sworn in tomorrow as independents go with BJP

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

The meeting of the BJP legislators in Haryana is scheduled to take part on Saturday (October 26), in which incumbent chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is all set to get elected the leader. Nirmala Sitharaman and Arun Singh are to be deputed as party observers to oversee the election of Khattar.

With several of the independent MLAs deciding to go with the BJP, it looks almost certain that the Congress is out of contention for power. Also, the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) chief Dushyant Chautala, whose party has won ten seats, may not be any consequence in government formation as the BJP appears confident of securing the required numbers.

For the record, Dushyant has asserted that he hasn’t decided on whom to support.

But the support of Haryana Lokhit Party leader Gopal Kanda to the BJP has raised eyebrows even within the BJP as he is a rape accused. Uma Bharati has warned her party against taking his support.

But the MLA from Sirsa declared that he and other independents have “decided to extend unconditional support to the BJP”. “My family is connected with RSS since 1926. My father was connected with the BJP,” said Kanda.

Earlier, a day after results threw up a hung assembly in Haryana, the scene of action shifted to Delhi on Friday with Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar and his Congress rival Bhupinder Singh Hooda flying to the city to strategise on government formation.

According to latest report, Khattar met senior BJP leaders including working party president JP Nadda to discuss steps on government formation.

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 JJP with 10 seats hold the key to power in the state.

The Indian National Lok Dal and Haryana Lokhit Party bagged one seat each.

Khattar, who reached here Friday morning, is meeting the Independents in Haryana Bhavan and will also meet top BJP leaders over formation of government, sources said. Hooda, a former chief minister of the state, has also made fervent appeals to independents to come together against the BJP. He will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

“The BJP will form government in Haryana and it will work for the overall development of the state. Most independents are supporting us,” claimed Subhash Barala who has offered to step down as Haryana BJP chief.

Two Independent MLAs met BJPs Haryana in-charge and party general secretary Anil Jain last night, it is learnt. Kanda and Independent Ranjeet Singh were taken to Delhi in a chartered plane by Sirsa MP Sunita Duggal. They told the media before boarding the plane that they will support the party which will work for the development of Sirsa. Duggal refused to comment on rushing the two independent candidates to the national capital. “It is an internal matter of the BJP,” is all she said.

Singh, the brother of former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, won the Rania seat. Singh entered the fray as an independent after being denied a Congress ticket. Former MP Deepinder Singh Hooda said the independents were in touch with the Congress.

“Haryana has voted the BJP out that is clear. The BJP is now trying to pressure independents as many of them want to join us. This cannot be accepted in a democracy,” said Hooda. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala has also criticised the BJP for seeking Kanda’s support, saying the ruling party had been against him. His party colleague, former MP Deepinder Singh Hooda, said independents were in touch with the Congress.

“Haryana has voted the BJP out, that is clear. The BJP is now trying to pressure independents as many of them want to join us. This cannot be accepted in a democracy,” said Hooda. The Congress is awaiting the decision of the JJP to extend its support to it before working out a deal with Independent MLAs, party insiders said. While the Congress is keen to have a mahagathbandhan led by it in Haryana, it does not want a repeat of the Karnataka model where it had to give the post of chief minister to a minor ally.

(With inputs from agencies)