Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda staked his claim to form the new government in the state on Friday, having cobbled together a majority within hours of discovering the Congress party was falling six short.
Assembly elections results on Thursday showed Congress had won just 40 seats, six short of the majority it needed to continue in power in the 90-member assembly. By late Thursday Hooda had already obtained letters of support from six of the seven newly elected independent MLAs.
It was not an easy task as his main rival, Om Prakash Chautala, leader of the Indian National Lok Dal, was also engaged in garnering support, his party having won 32 seats. But Hooda, with greater numbers on his side, also moved quickly to trump Chautala.
The state where the expression Aya Ram, Gaya Ram (referring to the fickle loyalties of MLAs) had originated, saw a throwback to the old days are independents and smaller parties were diligently wooed by the two large parties, the Congress and the INLD.
The suspense over who would be the next chief minister remained, with the freshly elected MLAs at their first meeting on Friday, authorizing party president Sonia Gandhi to decide. But most felt Hooda would not be denied.
“I’ve told the governor that we have the required numbers,” Phool Chand Mullana, Haryana Congress president told HT.
An influential section of the party, opposed to Hooda, had been pressing for forging an alliance with the Bhajan Lal Haryana Janhit Morcha, which had won six seats. They expected Bhajan Lal, given his old enmity with Hooda, to insist on a different chief minister as pre condition for the alliance. But Hooda, getting the independents, left them behind.