Haryana gets a hung assembly contrary to what most exit polls predicted. As it seems, Dushyant Chautala has emerged as the kingmaker in Haryana. His start-up political outfit Jannayak Janata Party has secured crucial 10 seats in Haryana Assembly. The BJP has fallen short of a majority by five seats while the Congress doubled its 2014 tally to finish at 31 - well short of the half-way mark.
In this scenario, Dushyant Chautala holds the key to power in Haryana. He could bargain hard with either of the BJP or the Congress. Though an alliance between Dushyant Chautala's JJP and the BJP would eliminate other stakeholders in the power-sharing equation, the same cannot be said about the Congress-JJP tie-up, if it happens at all.
The Congress, however, does not have any realistic chance of forming government in Haryana without conceding to the demands or conditions put forth by Dushyant Chautala. The BJP, on the other hand, has some other alternatives. The Independent MLAs can prove the deciding factor if Dushyant Chautala goes overambitious.
Seven Independent candidates have won in Haryana Assembly election. Five of them are BJP rebels, who contested as Independent candidates after the party denied them tickets. The BJP leadership would find it easier to win over them by simply conceding their miscalculation and ready to amend their stand after the rebels proved a point.
They are Dharampal Gonder from Niokheri, Balraaj Kunddu from Meham, Nayan Pal Rawt from Prithla, Randhir Singh Gollen from Pundri and Sombir from Dadri, where the official candidate of the BJP was wrestler Babita Phogat. If the BJP succeeds in winning back all five rebel MLAs, it would reach the half-way mark.
Two other Independent candidates securing victory are Rakesh Daulatabad from Badshahpur and Ranjit Singh from Rania. Rakesh Daultabad is an INLD (Indian National Lok Dal) rebel while Ranjit Singh is a Congress rebel.
The BJP then can depend on the INLD's Abhay Chautala, the lone member of his party to win. If Dushyant Chautala stays away from the BJP, Abhay Chautala would be happy to cooperate with the party.
The BJP can also fancy its chance with Gopal Kanda, who is the lone member of his Haryana Lokhit Party to win the election. Gopal Kanda has been a controversial figure in Haryana politics.
He had played the kingmaker in 2009 when the Congress fell five short of the majority mark. Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Congress chief minister then, roped in Kanda to ensure necessary support of the legislators. He managed the numbers and was rewarded with a ministerial berth in the Hooda cabinet.
Kanda had to resign in 2012 after he hit the national headline for wrong reasons when a former air hostess, Geetika Sharma committed suicide accusing Kanda of sexual harassment. Later, Geetika's mother Anuradha Sharma committed suicide in 2013 blaming Kanda for the extreme step.
He was jailed after Geetika's suicide and was granted bail from the Delhi High Court only in March 2014. Two months later, he floated the Haryana Lokhit Party. Kanda is still facing multiple cases including those related to corruption involving real estate and connection with the underworld.
So, the BJP would believe that it has better chances of forming a government in Haryana more than what the Congress would fancy. Reports suggest that Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar sought time on Thursday evening with Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki to stake a claim on the behalf of the BJP.
On the other hand, Congress president Sonia Gandhi is understood to have given Bhupinder Singh Hooda a "freehand" to try and return to the Chief Minister's Office in Haryana. Dushyant Chautala still holds the key but the BJP - but not the Congress - has other alternatives also.