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BJP's nationalist campaign failure shows

NCP bests Congress, Shiv Sena pushes BJP to majority

By The Telegraph in New Delhi

  • Published 24.10.19, 7:14 PM
  • Updated 24.10.19, 9:58 PM
Petals are showered as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives to address supporters at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on October 24.
Petals are showered as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives to address supporters at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on October 24. PTI

Maharashtra is set to remain with the BJP, but in Haryana, where it is the single largest party but short of majority, there is a fight ahead. 

The Assembly election results have thrown up several interesting details. 

  • Looking at the numbers, it would seem the BJP's nationalist campaign around the NRC and Article 370 has fallen flat. The party may or may not win 100 seats tonight in Maharashtra, where earlier it held 122 and hoped to cross 200. In Haryana, it may have up with 40 in its kitty, which is six seats short of majority.
  • In Maharashtra, the state allies have fared better than the national parties. The BJP reached close to 150 seats, thanks to Shiv Sena's 56 seats. The Congress, despite a near-flat performance - it is poised to win 46, four more than 2014 - and without a decent campaign, looks respectable on the tally charts because of the 56 seats Sharad Pawar's NCP is set to win. 
  • In Haryana, Jat scion Dushyant Chautala's fledgling Jannayak Janta Party with 10 seats is the kingmaker. 
  • It may still be too early to write off the Congress, which fought without any coordinated campaign while yet to recover from the Lok Sabha election hammering and Rahul Gandhi's departure as party chief. Whether the seats the Congress won was a vote of confidence for it or an anti-BJP signal will become clear after vote share percentages emerge.

The BJP's topmost leadership has indicated that Manohar Lal Khattar will stake claim to form a government in Haryana. 

This evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while thanking supporters outside the BJP headquarters, credited the two state governments of beating anti-incumbency. He called the party's performance in Haryana, where it failed to win majority, "unprecedented" as the vote share had risen by three per cent to 36 compared to 2014.

BJP chief Amit Shah, the first senior party leader to speak after the tallies stabilised, tweeted: "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." He congratulated Khattar and state party chief Subhash Barala.

Eight of Khattar's ministers have lost their seats.

Shah also congratulated Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Since afternoon, various party leaders have tried to sound out their allies and rivals.

The first off the blocks was the Sena's Sanjay Raut, who said the BJP should stick to the 50-50 formula decided on before the election.

Sharad Pawar, who held a news conference in the afternoon, did not criticise ally Congress. When asked if there was any truth in the talk that the Congress-NCP and the Sena may come together, he said there was no decision to approach the Shiv Sena in order to keep the BJP out of power.

Bhupinder Hooda, the Haryana former chief minister who led the campaign in the state, sent out an anti-BJP alliance nudge to the Jannayak Janta Party and the seven to eight Independents who now hold the key to stability in the state. "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," Hooda said in Rohtak.

He said the administration was putting pressure on the Independents at the behest of the BJP and not allowing them to move freely.

JJP leader Dushyant Chautala, however, has kept everyone guessing. "This shows there was huge anti-incumbency against the (Manohar Lal) Khattar government," he said, but added that "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."

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