Bharatiya Janata Party sweeps Haryana, Maharashtra

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 20 2014, 11:41am hrs
Narendra Modi Amit ShahPM Narendra Modi is welcomed by BJP President Amit Shah on his arrival for a Parliamentary board meeting on Assembly polls results.(PTI)
Three months after assuming office at the Centre, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, tasted its first major victory on Sunday with big wins in the assembly elections in two crucial states Haryana and Maharashtra.

In Haryana, the party is set to form the government having swept the polls to bag a majority 47 seats in the 90-seat assembly, winning the state for the first time alone since it was formed in 1966; a decision on the chief ministerial candidate is awaited.

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In Maharashtra, the BJP emerged as the single-largest party with 122 seats a near-trebling of its 2009 tally but still short of the half-way mark of 145 but is still likely to form the government. The Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has offered the BJP unconditional outside support while erstwhile ally, although an alliance with the Shiv Sena, with whom it had snapped its ties before the polls, cannot be ruled out. Political experts observed that the BJP and Shiv Sena shared a common ideology and, moreover, that their alliance was more than two decades old. The split in the alliance, before the elections, they pointed out, had been the result of differences of the sharing of seats. However, given that it has the backing of the NCP, it could drive a hard bargain with the Shive Sena.

Analysts observed that the BJPs convincing victories in two of the countrys most prosperous and developed states, would allow it to take tough reform measures; on Saturday the government took steps to deregulate the pricing of diesel and also increased the price of gas to $5.6/mmbtu, with effect from November 1, from the current price of $4.2/mmbtu. The NDA government is keen to roll out a national Goods and Services Tax (GST) as soon as possible and requires all states to be on board. Equally important, with more states coming into the BJP fold, the party will also benefit in terms of more seats in the Upper House helping it to pass crucial economic Bills.

The BJP Parliamentary Board, the partys highest decision-making body, met in the evening to decide on its strategy in Maharashtra; home minister Rajnath Singh, external affirs minister Sushma Swaraj and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan participated in the discussions. The party decided to send two observers each to Maharashtra and Haryana to decide on CM issue. Rajnath Singh and J P Nadda to go as observers to Maharashtra; Venkaiah Naidu and Dinesh Sharma to Haryana.

Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah are understood to have held another meeting later in the evening.

Earlier during the day, BJP president Amit Shah hinted that the party was not averse to NCPs support and virtually ignored Shiv Sena, its oldest saffron ally. Shah, who addressed the media at the partys headquarters in Delhi that it was Shiv Sena which broke the ties with its party. As per norms of democracy, the largest party has the right to form the government. BJP will be forming the government in Maharashtra," Shah said. Taking a dig at Sena with which the alliance broke over seat sharing, the BJP chief said, The results have proved who was correct... We won more seats than we were being offered. BJP wanted to contest 134 out of 288 seats but Shiv Sena was not ready to give more than 119.

The front-runners for CM from among the Jats are former national spokesman Abhimanyu and Kisan Morcha chief Om Prakash Dhankar. The non-Jats whose names are in circulation are former state party in-charge Manohar Lal Khattar, state president Ram Bilas Sharma, Union ministers of state Inderjit Singh and Krishnapal Gujar, and Anil Vij.