"Even BJP MLAs Can Switch Sides": Dushyant Chautala On Prospect Of Split

"This is the time of election... People will switch parties. Who knows, even the BJP MLAs can switch sides," Dushyant Chautala said

New Delhi:

Dushyant Chautala -- the prime mover behind the bid to pull down the Haryana government led by his former ally -- the BJP, appears to have taken reports about his MLAs' secret meeting with the BJP, with textbook equanimity. Switching parties is normal at election time, he told NDTV this evening. Asked about the possibility of an Operation Lotus by the BJP, which is in a tight corner after three Independent MLAs pulled support to the government, he said, "Then the people of Haryana will come to know". Then, with a straight face, he added, "Who knows, even the BJP MLAs can switch sides".

Sources have said that four of the nine MLAs from Mr Chautala's JJP (Jannayak Janta Party) met the former BJP Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar this afternoon. AT the meeting, held in the Panipat house of state minister Mahipal Dhanda, the current political crisis was discussed.

The BJP had ended the alliance with Mr Chautala, a Deputy Chief Minister in the Manohar Lal Khattar government, in March, as it effected a change of guard in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha election. Nayab Singh Saini was brought in to replace Mr Khattar, and Mr Chautala, after a failed Lok Sabha seat sharing deal, was shown the door.

Earlier this week, after the Independents pulled off support to the government, Mr Chautala responded. He promptly declared that the government is now in minority and asked the Governor for a floor test. Appearing at a press conference with leaders of the Opposition Congress, he also said he was ready to provide the Grand Old Party with outside support should they wish to form a new government.

Today, asked about the JJP MLAs' meeting with Mr Khattar, Mr Chautala told NDTV this is was "not the time to worry about who is meeting whom". The fact remains that the government is in minority, he added.

While whip and expulsion were the standard means to deal with rebels, "this is the time of election," he said. "People will switch parties. If someone has to switch parties we will come to know. Let it come out in public. Who knows, even the BJP MLAs can switch sides," he 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.

This evening, INLD MLA Abhay Singh Chautala wrote to the Governor, saying if an assembly session cannot be called, President's Rule should immediately declared in the state.