Home Minister Amit Shah. (Photo Credit: PTI file )
Haryana Assembly Elections 2019: BJP president Amit Shah indicated on Thursday that his party will stake claim to form the next government in Haryana after the assembly election results threw up a hung verdict. The BJP was either winning or leading in 40 seats in the elections to the 90-member state assembly, according to the latest election commission figures, falling short of the majority mark of 46.
"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," Shah said in a tweet.
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He congratulated Chief Minister Khattar and state party chief Subhash Barala.
Shah also thanked voters in Maharashtra for "reposing their faith" in BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in the state. Results showed that the saffron alliance was set to get majority, even though its overall numbers appeared to be falling short of their 2014 tally.
The Dushyant Chautala-led JJP and the Independents are likely to play a key role in government formation in Haryana as the BJP and the Congress do not seem to attain majority on its own and remained locked in a tense fight.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had set a target of winning 75 seats in the 90-member assembly, has won 17 seats so far and is leading in 22. The Congress has won 13 seats and is leading in 19 constituencies.
Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), which fought its maiden assembly polls, is ahead in two seats and has won eight. Four Independent candidates have registered victory while three are leading in the race.
If the trend holds, former deputy prime minister Devi Lal's great grandson Dushyant Chautala and the Independents are likely to emerge as kingmakers.
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) is ahead in just one seat of Ellenabad where Abhay Singh Chautala is the incumbent legislator. Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP) president Gopal Kanda registered a win from Sirsa seat.
With the Haryana assembly polls heading for a fractured mandate, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda urged non-BJP outfits on Thursday to join hands.
"This mandate is against the BJP. The JJP, INLD and others, including the Independents, should join hands with the Congress to keep the BJP at bay," he told reporters in Rohtak.
Hooda alleged the administration was putting pressure on the Independents at the behest of the BJP and not allowing them to move freely.
Commenting on the results and trends so far, JJP leader Dushyant Chautala said, "This shows there was huge anti-incumbency against the (Manohar Lal) Khattar government."
Asked whom would his party support in the event of a hung assembly, the JJP leader said, "It is too early to say anything. We will first summon a meeting of our MLAs, decide who would be our leader in the House and then take it further."
Taking a swipe at the BJP's 'mission' of securing 75 seats, he said they will fall way short of their target as the "people of Haryana want change".
State Congress chief Kumari Selja said the people of Haryana have rejected the BJP and are ready to "embrace a new dawn of justice".
While incumbent Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar have attained an unassailable lead of nearly 45,000 votes over his Congress rival in Karnal, three BJP minister -- Capt Abhimanyu, Kavita Jain and Krishan Kumar Bedi -- lost and a few more were trailing way behind their rivals.
State BJP chief Subhash Barala was trailing by a high margin in his Tohana constituency while Assembly Speaker Kanwar Pal was also trailing from his Jagadhri seat.
Among the sportspersons and Tik Tok star fielded by the BJP -- former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh won from Pehowa, but wrestler Babita Phogat lost from Dadri while Olympic medallist grappler Yogeshwar Dutt was trailing in Baroda seat in Sonipat.
Tik Tok star Sonali Phogat lost to senior Congress leader Kuldeep Bishnoi from Adampur.
Among the ministers, the saving grace for the BJP was the convincing win of its senior minister Anil Vij from Ambala Cantonment, from where he is a five-time legislator. He defeated Independent candidate Chitra Sarwara by a margin of 20,165 votes.
The BJP has failed to break the Congress stronghold -- the Deswali or Jat dominated belt of the state comprising Rohtak, Jhajjar and Sonipat districts. It, however, picked up one odd seat, Rai in Sonipat.
The Congress was way ahead in this belt picking up 11 seats while in the northern part of Haryana, comprising Panchkula, Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra and Panipat, it picked up 10 or more seats. Though the BJP did much better, but it also lost some seats it held earlier.
The BJP held on to its Jind seat and did well in some pockets of southern Haryana and in Faridabad district.
Congress did well in at least six seats in south Haryana comprising of Nuh, Mahendragarh, Gurgaon and Rewari districts. It also performed well in Adampur in Hisar, Dabwali, Kalanwali and Ratia in Sirsa districts and Tosham in Bhiwani.
The Congress stalwarts who won the assembly elections included former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Kuldeep Bishnoi, while Kiran Choudhary earned a comfortable lead.
Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, who was initially trailing his nearest BJP rival in his Kaithal constituency, is now leading by a slender margin of 414 votes. Other senior leaders who are leading in the race Geeta Bhukkal, Raghubir Singh Kadian and Capt Ajay Yadav's son Chiranjeev Rao.
JJP's Dushyant Chautala had attained an unassailable lead of 47,353 votes over sitting BJP rival Prem Lata from Uchana Kalan segment. Lata is the wife of former Union Minister Birender Singh.
Congress candidate and former BCCI chief Ranbir Singh Mahendra is trailing in Badhra constituency, where the JJP's Naina Chautala is ahead. Raj Kumar Saini, chief of Loktanter Suraksha Party and former BJP MP from Kurukshetra, tasted defeat at the hands of Congress rival in Gohana.
Most of the exit polls had predicted a comfortable victory for the BJP, which came to power for the first time on its own in Haryana in 2014.
(With PTI inputs)