- BJP has won 40 seats while the Congress has won 31 in Haryana
- Bhupinder Singh Hooda says he has not given up hope
- He says he is a practical man who is ready for the unexpected
Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the man in the middle of the Congress's unexpected surge in Haryana, says he has not "given up hope" despite BJP assertions of forming the next government in the state as the single largest party and no response to Congress feelers from JJP chief Dushyant Chautala. At the same time, he said he was a "practical man" who was ready for the unexpected.
Haryana has delivered a fractured mandate. While the BJP has won 40 seats, the Congress has won 31 -- a situation that has catapulted Jat leader Dushyant Chautala, chief of the newly formed Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) in the position of the kingmaker.
The Congress had approached Mr Chautala last evening and issued an open invitation again today. Deepender Hooda, Mr Hooda's son and a senior leader of the party, had said, "Want to tell Dushyant Chautala to come together with us. Each ML of their party has been chosen to throw out BJP."
But there has been no response from the JJP, Bhupinder Hooda said. "They should have confirmed, let's see," he told NDTV.
Asked if he was as confident as Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Amit Shah when they talk of forming the next government, Mr Hooda said he has not "lost hope". But at the same time, he was a "practical man", he said.
"I wait for events. Let's see. Sometimes events take place which you don't expect," he told NDTV.
Sources indicated that Mr Chautala is holding out for an offer of the Chief Minister's post. Asked if he was ready to go along with that, Mr Hooda said, "The party would decide".
Party sources indicated that the Central leadership was not keen on what they called the "Karnataka formula". The offer of the top post to a regional power was the path taken by the Congress in Karnataka last year to keep the BJP out of power. The party had taken a back seat, leaving the top post for HD Kumaraswamy, chief of the Janata Dal Secular.
But it had left the regional leaders of both parties deeply unhappy and played into the BJP's hands. The government collapsed this year as a number of MLAs from both Congress and Mr Kumaraswamy's Janata Dal Secular walked out.
Mr Hooda had been handed the party's reins in the state after Sonia Gandhi took over as the Congress's interim chief in August. The 72-year-old had been sidelined after the party's defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as Rahul Gandhi put a much younger Ashok Tanwar in charge.
This morning, Mr Hooda had claimed the party could have given a much better performance if he had "more time".
Asked about a possible divide between the old guard and the new, Mr Hooda denied any rift. "It is one party," he told NDTV.