Khattar, Hooda in Delhi to strategise on govt formation

Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar

New Delhi: A day after results threw up a hung assembly in Haryana, the scene of action shifted to Delhi today with Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar and his Congress rival Bhupinder Singh Hooda in the city to strategise on formation of government.

Both the BJP and the Congress are making hectic efforts to woo the Independents — some are already in the national capital — and the smaller parties in a bid to shore up their numbers, sources in the parties said. In an important development, Haryana Lokhit Party leader Gopal Kanda, who has won the Sirsa seat, Friday claimed 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.

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 Jannayak Janta Party 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 BJP’s 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.