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Haryana: Bhajan Lal's party may be 'kingmaker'

October 22, 2009 20:23 IST
With Haryana assembly polls producing a fractured mandate, the Congress has opened channels of communication with Bhajan Lal-led breakaway faction for support and is wooing the seven successful Independent MLAs to help form the next government in the state.

Requiring 46 MLAs to form the government in the 90-member assembly, Congress is short of the magic figure by six. Party sources said of the 7 Independents, four are Congress rebels while three have their loyalties to Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala.

As both the Congress and INLD are in a close race to form government in the state, sources in Congress said channels of communications are open with Bhajan Lal-led Haryana Janhit Congress-BL, which has six MLAs.

"Bhajan Lal is an old Congressman...Our channels of communications are open with him," a senior party leader closely associated with Haryana affairs said. However, the leader said the party does not know what Bhajan Lal would ask for in return for his support.

Congress had denied party ticket to Bhajan Lal's son Chander Mohan alias Chand Mohammed after his controversial conversion to Islam and then reconversion.

Party sources were optimistic that Congress will form the government but were worried whether Chautala had some aces up in his sleeves at this point of time when so much depends on Independents and Bhajan Lal-led party.

Congress sources counted 32 MLAs in Chautala's kitty along with one of Shiromoni Akali Dal. If Bharatiya Janata Party, former ally of INLD, supports it, the figure would go upto 36. Add to it the three Independents loyal to Chautala.

Sources said that in such a situation, the support of the HJC-BL would become crucial for both the rival formations in the race to form government.

For Congress, even if it gets the support of four MLAs who are said to be party rebels, the tally reaches only 44 and still two short of majority. The party would again need the support of Bhajan Lal's party.

As the political situation in Haryana led to an introspection in the party circles, Union Minister Shelja, considered a rival of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in state politics, met party chief Sonia Gandhi to discuss the situation in the state.

Sources indicated central observers for the state would be appointed by Friday and the Congress Legislature Party meeting is expected to be held in the next two days.

Image: Haryana Janhit Congress-BL chief Bhajan Lal

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