Kattar Cannot Cut the Poll Victory Cake as Yet, May be Axed
With the BJP falling short of the halfway mark of 45 in the Assembly elections in Haryana, the fate of out-going chief minister Manoharlal Kattar depends on a king-maker and a bunch of ambitious Independents salivating for power.
With a hung verdict, the BJP is in pole position with 40 seats. The party needs 6 more MLAs to retain power. And that can come from the disgruntled Chautala scion and king-maker Dushyant Chautala whose start-up political outfit Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) has secured crucial 10 seats. He is the man to watch for not just now, but in future too.
There are 7 independents and one MLA from the INLD-Akali combine. The lone MLA from the combine will never support the JPP, their sworn enemy and would rather sail with the BJP. The independents, mainly rebels, have indicated that they will support the BJP if they are suitably compensated (and protected from cases).
There are two scenarios – the BJP gets the support of the independents or the JJP.
Despite a good performance, the Congress with 30 seats cannot hope to form a government even with the support of the JJP. With nothing to gain from the Congress, the JJP may sail with the BJP. If that happens, the saffron party need not succumb to the demands of the independents; they will anyway have to support the BJP-JJP combine.
But Dushyant will bargain hard with the BJP. If he is too pricey, the Independent MLAs can prove to be the deciding factor. What needs flagging here is that five of them are BJP rebels. They contested after the party denied them tickets. The BJP leadership would find it easier to win them over.
Two other Independent candidates are Rakesh Daultabad, and INLD (Indian National Lok Dal) rebel and Ranjit Singh, a Congress rebel.
If the seven MLAs come to the BJP’s side, INLD’s Abhay Chautala, the lone member of his party to win, would automatically cooperate with the saffron party.
Then there is Gopal Kanda, the lone member of his Haryana Lokhit Party to win the election. He was seen on a BJP-chartered flight to Delhi yesterday. Kanda may be a choice, but for that the BJP must be ready to throw principles and ethics out of the window.
Kanda had played the kingmaker in 2009 when the Congress fell five short of the majority mark. Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Congress chief minister then, roped in Kanda to ensure necessary support of the legislators. He managed the numbers and was rewarded with a ministerial berth in the Hooda cabinet.
Kanda had to resign in 2012 after 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. Kanda is still facing multiple cases including those related to corruption involving real estate and connection with the underworld.
Amidst all the jockeying for power, the man of the moment is not Kattar, but former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Congress party’s old warhorse and two-time chief minister.
He could have made it had the highcommand given him the reins early in the electoral race. “We would have won a full majority if we had more time. The trends are in our favour,” Hooda told reporters. And that is true. Senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad concurred with the view saying the Congress would have performed much better if Hooda had been in action six months earlier.
The Congress had sidelined Hooda because the party reposed faith in a much younger Ashok Tanwar who was replaced by Kumari Selja.
The Congress still hopes that Dushyant Chautala will come over because each MLA of their party had been chosen to throw out the BJP.
The next few days, if not hours, will be crucial in Haryana. The BJP has not announced its intention to stake claim. That hint came in PM Modi and Amit Shah’s tweets.
“The (Manohar Lal) Khattar government in Haryana has made every effort for people’s welfare under the central leadership of (Narendra) Modi. I thank people for making the BJP the single-largest party and giving it another opportunity to serve them,” said Shah in a tweet.
PM Modi followed up on Shah’s tweets a few minutes later.
“I thank the people of Haryana for blessing us. We will continue to work with the same zeal and dedication for the state’s progress. I laud the efforts of hardworking @BJP4Haryana Karyakartas who toiled extensively and went among the people to elaborate on our development agenda,” he said in a tweet on Haryana.
Unlike the big pat that came for outgoing CM of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, there was no such warmth for Kattar. A message is out there.