Dushyant Chautala, who hopes to play kingmaker in Haryana after a fractured verdict that gave no party a majority, said today that the "key" to a stable government was still with his party. Sources say he is inclined to support the BJP and may soon meet its working president JP Nadda.
The Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), with the "key" as its poll symbol, has 10 MLAs. But the ruling BJP, which emerged as the largest party and needs six MLAs for a majority, has been focusing on its pursuit of eight independent MLAs, among them the highly controversial Gopal Kanda.
Facing a backlash over Kanda, who has a criminal record and is accused of abetting the suicide in 2012 of a woman who worked for his aviation company, the BJP is believed to be considering a tie-up with Dushyant Chautala.
"We haven't spoken to anyone, key still with JJP for stable government," said Dushyant Chautala, insisting that his party had taken "no decision on support to anyone yet".
On being pressed about his family's links with the BJP, he said: "Neither the BJP nor the Congress is untouchable for us."
Speaking after a national executive meeting of his party, the JJP chief said some members were in favour of a tie-up with the BJP and others wanted to support the Congress. "If somebody wants to be our partner on the issues that we fought this election and give us due respect, we will support them," Mr Chautala said.
The Congress reportedly reached out to the 31-year-old as the votes were being counted and the party seemed to be doing much better than its expectations. But the party ended up with 31 of Haryana's 90 seats, which means that just the JJP's support will not be enough for the Congress to form government.
The BJP, which ended up with 40 seats, needs the support of six more MLAs to take power. One of them, Gopal Kanda, pledged his unconditional support to the BJP saying all independent MLAs would back the ruling party.
But the BJP has been attacked by not just the Congress but also its own party leader Uma Bharti over the Gopal Kanda report.
As he debated his options, Mr Chautala met his father Ajay Chautala at Delhi's Tihar jail today. Ajay Chautala is the older son of four-time Chief Minister and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) president OP Chautala.
Mr Chautala split from the INLD after a split in the party and the Chautala family.
The INLD has ended up with just one seat, that of Abhay Chautala.
Sources say Mr Chautala's MLAs believe the party, for its survival, should go with the BJP and be a part of the government.