BJP may form govt in Haryana, claims backing of Independent MLAs

BJP may form govt in Haryana, claims backing of Independent MLAs
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar waves at his supporters during a roadshow in support of BJP candidate Kavita Jain, ahead of Haryana Assembly polls, in Sonipat. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The BJP on Friday appeared set to form the government in Haryana after seven Independent MLAs pledged their support to it amid indications that the Dushyant Chautala-led JJP, which has 10 legislators, might also back the saffron party.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar will be elected the BJP legislative party leader at a meeting in Chandigarh on Saturday and will then stake claim before the governor to form the government.

Top BJP leaders moved swiftly since Thursday night to cobble together a majority in the 90-member Haryana Assembly after the party's tally fell to 40 in the state, six short of the majority mark.

Sources said BJP president Amit Shah had spoken to Chautala even before the results were out, following inputs that the party might not get a majority on its own.

Chautala, however, made no mention of supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday, merely saying that no party was untouchable for him and his Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) would support any formation that would assure him of fulfilling his poll promises made to the people of Haryana, including a 75-per cent quota for locals in government jobs.

The BJP has clinched the backing of most of the seven Independent MLAs in the Haryana Assembly 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 over controversial MLA Gopal Kanda, an accused in two abetment-to-suicide cases, announcing 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.

BJP's Haryana in-charge Anil Jain said the party's top brass would take a call on the controversial MLA's support.

BJP leaders are also confident of lone Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLA Abhay Chautala's support to its government.

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman and BJP general secretary Arun Singh will attend Saturday's legislative party meeting as central observers, Jain said.

The Haryana Assembly polls threw up a hung verdict on Thursday, with the ruling BJP emerging as the single-largest party with 40 seats, but falling six short of the majority mark of 46 in the 90-member House.

(With PTI inputs)

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