9 May 2024

Haryana Crisis: Former BJP ally Dushyant Chautala confronts internal division within his party as Govt braces for a test of its strength, what next?

Chandigarh: Dushyant Chautala, once an ally of the BJP now turned adversary, finds himself in a precarious position as efforts to destabilize the Nayab Singh Saini government in Haryana intensify. Sources suggest that he needs to be vigilant about retaining the support of his party members as maneuvers for a no-confidence motion against the government gain momentum. 

Following the withdrawal of support from three Independent MLAs aligned with the BJP, a group of Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) MLAs, led by Chautala, reportedly held discussions with former BJP Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Minister of State Mahipal Dhanda at the residence of Dhanda in Panipat.

According to sources, the meeting, lasting about half an hour, revolved around the ongoing political crisis. However, Dhanda declined to comment on the proceedings.

Chautala initiates disciplinary action against three of his MLAs

In response to the mounting pressure, Chautala has initiated disciplinary action against three of his MLAs by issuing show cause notices. Talking to media, he emphasized the importance of party loyalty, urging those intending to switch sides to resign first.

Opposition cannot secure support of even all its MLAs: Khattar

Khattar, however, seemed unperturbed. "The BJP maintains personal relationships with many Congress and JJP MLAs... The opposition cannot secure the support of even all its MLAs," he informed reporters.

He also highlighted the procedural aspect of the situation. "The Opposition must satisfy the Governor before the floor test. The presence of MLAs is essential," he emphasized, noting that the Governor and the Assembly Speaker hold the authority to make decisions regarding the Opposition's request.

"The opposition should not solely rely on their calculations. They need to consider others' calculations as well," he concluded.

The Haryana government, led by the BJP, was thrown into turmoil when three MLAs withdrew their support earlier this week. Subsequently, Chautala, flanked by senior Congress leaders, announced that the BJP government was now a minority and offered outside support to the Congress in forming the government.

However, Chautala's efforts to push for a floor test hit a snag due to procedural constraints, with only one no-confidence motion permitted per assembly session. 

In February, the Congress tabled a no-confidence motion, followed by a floor test in March during the budget session of the assembly.

Opposition faces limited options

As the upcoming assembly session scheduled for July is the monsoon session, the Opposition faces limited options. They have requested the Governor to convene a special session, but the decision rests with him. INLD MLA Abhay Singh Chautala has urged the Governor to consider imposing President's Rule if a session cannot be called.

Assembly's term concludes in November

Given the impending assembly elections later this year, as the assembly's term concludes in November, attempting to overthrow the Saini government may largely be a symbolic gesture.

Following the Congress's request for an audience with the Governor, the Chief Minister remarked on their haste. "Less than a month ago, we secured the vote of confidence. When the session convenes, discussions will ensue. The focus of these people (the Congress) should be on the Lok Sabha election," stated Saini.

The Haryana Assembly, comprising 90 seats, currently has 88 members, lowering the majority threshold to 45. The BJP holds 40 MLAs, including three Independents, falling two short of a majority. The Congress has 30 MLAs with support from three independent candidates. A unified JJP would increase their tally to 43 MLAs. This leaves two MLAs unaligned - one from the Haryana Lokhit Party and another from the INLD.

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