BJP's Ex-Ally Dushyant Chautala, Who Sought Haryana Test Of Strength, Faces Split In Party

Four MLAs of the Jannayak Janta Party or JJP were present for the half-hour meeting with Mr Khattar and Mr Dhanda held around 2 pm.

Four MLAs of the JJP were present for the half-hour meeting with ML Khattar, sources said.


Dushyant Chautala, the friend-turned-foe of the BJP who is out to fell the government, should guard his flock, sources have indicated. As efforts are on to bring a no-confidence motion against the Nayab Singh Saini government after three Independent MLAs pulled support from the BJP, a handful of Mr Chautala's MLAs met the former BJP Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar this afternoon, sources said. The meeting took place at the residence of Minister of State Mahipal Dhanda in Panipat. Four MLAs of the Jannayak Janta Party or 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. In an interview to NDTV, Mr Chautala said people change partes at election time, but they should resign from their party first.

Mr Khattar, though, appeared unfazed. "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."  He added.

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) stopped 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 is 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 is "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, including 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. This scenario leaves two MLAs unaligned-one from the Haryana Lokhit Party and the other from the INLD.