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Haryana: BJP Government Appears Stable as JJP Faces Split

Haryana: BJP Government Appears Stable as JJP Faces Split

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 9: The BJP government in Haryana led by Nayab Singh Saini appeared stable on Thursday despite the withdrawal of support by three independents as a section MLAs of the party’s erstwhile coalition partner the Jannayak Janata Dal seemed to be inclined to extend support to the BJP government if needed.

The former deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala, the friend-turned-foe of the BJP who is out to fell the government and in a letter to the governor on Thursday demanded a floor test by the Saini government to prove its majority, was facing a split in his JJP.

The BJP sources said a handful of Mr Chautala’s MLAs met the former BJP Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday afternoon. The meeting took place at the residence of Minister of State Mahipal Dhanda in Panipat. Four MLAs of the JJP were present for the half-hour meeting with Mr Khattar and Mr Dhanda, held around 2 pm. Sources said the leaders had discussed the current political crisis. The host, Mr Dhanda, has refused to comment on the matter.

Mr Chautala has already started a crackdown. Three MLAs, Devinder Babli, Ram Niwas and Jogi Ram, have been issued showcause notices by his party. Mr Khattar appeared unfazed over demand for floor test. “The BJP has personal relations with many MLAs of Congress and the JJP… It would be a big deal even if the opposition can manage all its MLAs,” he told reporters.

He also pointed out that there was a process to all this. “The Opposition will have to satisfy the Governor before the floor test. There has to be personal attendance by MLAs,” he said, pointing out that it is the Governor and the Assembly Speaker who have to take a decision on the Opposition’s demand. “The opposition should not think of its own mathematics. They have to understand other people’s mathematics also,” Mr Khattar quipped.

The BJP-led government in Haryana was plunged into crisis earlier this week as MLAs Sombir Sangwan (representing Dadri), Randhir Singh Gollen (from Pundri), and Dharampal Gonder (of Nilokheri) withdrew support to the BJP government.

It was followed by a press conference by Mr Chautala where he, accompanied by senior leaders of the Congress, declared that the BJP government was now a minority and he would provide outside support the Congress should they choose to form government.

Mr Chautala chased it up with a letter to the Governor, demanding a floor test in the assembly. But there he ran up against a technicality — only one no-confidence motion can be brought against the government in a single assembly session. The Congress had brought a no-confidence motion in February and a floor test was held in March, during the budget session of the assembly.

Given the next assembly session will be the monsoon session in July, the Opposition’s options are limited. The Governor has been asked to seek a special session, but it would be his call. INLD MLA Abhay Singh Chautala has also written to the Governor, saying if an assembly session cannot be called, President’s Rule should immediately be imposed in the state.

With the assembly elections due later this year — the term of the assembly ends in November — toppling the Saini government could largely be an exercise in optics. After the Congress asked the Governor for an appointment, the Chief Minister said the party was “in a hurry”. “Less than a month ago, we won the trust vote. Now, when the session happens, we will talk. These people (the Congress) should focus on the Lok Sabha election,” Mr Saini said.

The Haryana Assembly, with 90 seats, currently has 88 members, which brings the majority mark down to 45. The BJP has 40 MLAs besides three Independent candidates, and is two short of majority. The Congress has 30 MLAs and three independent candidates supporting it. An undivided JJP would bring its numbers up to 43 MLAs while two MLAs – one from the Haryana Lokhit Party and the other from the INLD – are so far unaligned.



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