ML Khattar (BJP), Dushyant Chautala (JJP), Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Congress)
The early trends in Haryana have thrown up a cliffhanger. With Dushyant Chautala's Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) leading in 13 seats, Congress in 31 and BJP on 36, the race to touch the finish line — the magic number of 46— has turned into a nail-biter.
With that, let us understand the different scenarios and politics at play here:
The most practical possibility for both the JJP chief Dushyant Chautala and Congress is to tie-up with each other and stake claim to form the government. And they might, provided the early trend numbers stand.
Observers have stated that it would be more comfortable for Dushyant to work with the Congress.
The question, however, is if the Grand Old Party would offer Dushyant the post of the chief minister. Offering Bhupinder Singh Hooda— who has already served as the CM twice— the post again is risky, considering the Enforcement Directorate (ED) cases against him, but the Congress cannot afford to slight the strongman from Rohtak either.
Before the state went to polls, the party faced an open rebellion by Hooda, who eventually had his way by arm-twisting the central Congress leadership into sidelining his closest rival, Ashok Tanwar.
In a twist of fate, however, Tanwar had declared support to the JJP before the polls.
BJP, meanwhile, has reportedly also started preparations to negotiate with the JJP. It remains to be seen, however, if Dushyant goes the BJP way. He had, during the campaigning, stated that it was the only party on the block that can represent the interests of the Jats.
The Jat community was disenchanted with the ruling BJP dispensation after their agitation for reservation in 2016 and 2017. According to analysts and reports, the Dalit community in the state has also been feeling slighted by the BJP government.
All this— and the fall of the INLD— has worked in Dushyant's favour this time around. It would be interesting to see if he would want to give that away for the chief minister's post.
To add to that, Chautala had, after the early trends started trickling in, took a jab at the BJP, saying, "75 paar to fail ho gya, Yamuna-paar ki baari hai (The BJP has failed to cross 75 mark, now its time for Yamuna-paar) ".
The question now is that while both the BJP and the Congress have taken the first steps to reach out to Chautala, what will the JJP chief decide?