by Dinesh Malhotra, Bharat Times

To the disappointment of millions of Narendra Modi fans all over the world, the expected victory in both states – Maharashtra and Haryana has eluded the party. In Haryana, which was ruled by the BJP and expected by many observers to increase its majority this time, has come back with a hung parliament – YES – hung parliament, securing only 40 seats while the required number was 46 in the 90 seats assembly. Needless to add in the last (2014) election, the BJP had won 47 seats which was 43 more than their 2010 achievement of just 4 seats.

News polls and pollsters were estimating the number of be above 70. The disappointment will be huge, whether they put up a brave face (which politicians always do and spin) or accept they have been thrashed by the voters remains to be seen.

The most likely ‘kingmaker’ in Haryana is Dushyant Chautala, leader of the Jannayak Janta Party who have comeback with 10 seats in the house. Dushyant is holding meetings with his 10 MLAs today to decide their future course of action.

Surprisingly, the Congress managed to put up a resurgent show, winning 31 seats in the 90-member Haryana Legislative Assembly.  The Congress seems to be the BIGGEST WINNER in 2019, increasing its tally from 15 seats in 2014 to 31 in 2019.

The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP) won a seat each, with Independent candidates winning seven.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which contested 46 seats, was decimated and ended up with zero seats.

Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala expressed his confidence at forming the government in BJP.  “We have the support of independents, you will know who they are very soon,” he said. As counting on Thursday showed early indications that Barala will be dealt a blow in the Assembly seat of Tohana, reports began circulating that he had tendered his resignation to the party. Quashing the speculation, he said, “I never resigned from my post. This was a rumour that was spread by some people.”

According to several reports, the BJP is keen on having the JJP onboard and make him an equal stakeholder in the government. On Thursday, however, Chautala commented about the results saying, ““This shows there was huge anti-incumbency against the (Manohar Lal) Khattar government.”

Dushyant Chautala has reportedly put out his ambition to be the CM in lieu of his 10 MLA’s support to whichever party can accommodate him as head of the government in Haryana.

While there are strong indications that the BJP will form government with the help of some Independents, a cocktail government made up of Congress, Jannayak Janta Party and others is in with a very small chance, if Dushyant Chautala, the Kingmaker makes a choice to work with the Congress’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda who  had played a decisive role in putting his (Dushyant’s) grandfather Om Prakash Chautala, behind bars.

IN MAHARASHTRA also, the BJP has had a disappointing result. In the 288 house, where it was touted to win no less than 200 seats in all popular opinion polls, it has managed to win only 106. 8-10 sitting ministers have lost their seats.

BJP’s partner and demanding 50-50 power sharing in the government numbers, Shiv Sena in its own publication Saamna targeted BJP with headlines of NCP’s big victory and how it turned Congress’ favours in the state.

“Elections cannot be won with the help of turncoats as it has been seen  in Satara where Udayrajaje Bhosale was defeated by a huge margin,” Sena wrote in a snub to its alliance partner”, Saman wrote snubbing its alliance partner.

Shiv Sena has won 56 seats. NCP has won 54 and the Congress party has managed to win 44 with 28 going to Others.

NCP senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal indicated that the battle for the government in Maharashtra could become a terse one. “Does Shiv Sena want Deputy CM or CMs post?” he asked insinuating the possibility that NCP could be offering the CM’s post to Shiv Sena.

The 50-50 Power-Sharing Deal
Although for now it looks likely that the reigns of the government in Maharashtra will remain with Devendra Fadnavis, if the offers alluded to by Chhagan Bhujbal reach Shiv Sena in earnest, the equations can become a little awkward for the BJP. There is likelihood of the Shiv Sena, being offered the Deputy CM’s post. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told reporters in Mumbai “It is time to remind the BJP about the formula arrived at when BJP chief Amit Shah visited my home….we had decided on a fifty-fifty formula for the alliance.”

In 2014 Maharashtra state elections, the BJP had won 122 seats, Shiv Sena had won 63 seats, the Congress party had 42 seats and the NCP had 41 seats. While the BJP and Shiv Sena have gone backwards in 2019 and the Congress improving only marginally to 44 (from 42), the big winners are the NCP folk improving their tally from 41 to 54 in 2019. No wonder they are buoyant.

While the political horse-trading is on with immense intensity and the shuttling between Mumbai – Delhi and Chandigarh-Delhi is at a stampede speed, the central BJP spin doctors are working overtime to remove any suggestions in the airwaves that Modi magic seems to be running out of steam.

If these two results are taken on board by the BJP as ‘political turbulence’ and the pilot wrests the reigns back with all his might, there may still be some way to go for the BJP.

On the other hand, if the Congress party chances upon some political wisdom, soothing very rare for them at the moment, and throws in some charismatic people and policies in the ring, the Modi – wave may be looking at ‘pack-up’ post 2024 elections which they are expected to win unless the BJP throws some real nasty surprises for itself.

As we have seen in the past, Indian voters do not take long to change their minds!

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