Politics

Haryana: After Fighting Each Other, BJP-JJP Ally to Form Government

While Manohar Lal Khattar will continue as chief minister, Dushyant Chautala will likely be the deputy CM.

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) on Friday evening stitched up an alliance to form a government in Haryana. Following a meeting at his residence between leaders of the two parties, BJP president Amit Shah said while Manohar Lal Khattar would continue to be the chief minister, the post of deputy CM would go to the party led by Dushyant Chautala.

In a quick turn of events, Chautala, who met his father in Tihar Jail earlier in the day, reached the residence of Shah with Union minister Anurag Thakur. At Shah’s residence, a meeting was also held between Khattar, BJP working president J.P. Nadda and Haryana BJP president, Subhash Barala, who incidentally resigned from his post after results on Thursday showed the party stopping short of a majority.

The election had given a hung verdict with the BJP securing 40 seats, Congress 31, JJP 10, independent MLAs 7 and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Haryana Janhit Party one seat each.

In the meeting, the contours of the alliance were discussed. While there was speculation that JJP would be given two cabinet berths and one minister of state post, what Shah finally announced was very different. He said the party would get the deputy CM post and this in all likelihood would be taken up by Chautala.

Shah also said that both the sides have decided to respect the “spirit” of the mandate given by the people of Haryana and would work together for the next five years. He also declared that the process of forming a government would be taken forward tomorrow after the BJP legislative party meeting.

Dushyant Chautala and Manohar Lal Khattar. Photo: PTI

A seemingly crestfallen Khattar, on his part, said a number of independent MLAs have also offered their support to his government. However, he sidestepped a question on the exact number in the light of the controversy which had arisen over Haryana Lokhit Party MLA Gopal Kanda earlier extending his support to the BJP following a meeting with Nadda on Thursday.

The opposition and even BJP leader Uma Bharti had attacked the party for seeking to ally with Kanda, who was an accused in the rape and abetment to suicide case of an air hostess and the subsequent death due to suicide of her mother.

Khattar only said that further nitty-gritties would be worked out after the government is formed. He did not indicate if any of the independent MLAs would be given ministerial berths.

For his part, Chautala, who had earlier proclaimed that he may ally with any party, said he decided to partner with the BJP to give a “strong government” and to “fulfil the aspirations of the people”. “We want to work on a common minimum programme that includes reserving 75% jobs to the youth of the state, ensuring that they do not have to travel long distances for tests and interviews, meeting the needs of the farmers and providing respect to the elderly through old age pensions as were introduced by former chief minister Devi Lal (his great grandfather),” he said.