The Congress government in Haryana got a shot in the arm on Monday with four of the six MLAs of the Haryana Janhit Congress (Bhajan Lal) breaking away from their outfit and merging as a bloc with the ruling party.
With this, the Congress tally in the 90-member Assembly rose to 44, two short of a simple majority, leaving the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) with just two MLAs, including Bhajan Lal’s younger son and party president Kuldeep Bishnoi.
By late Monday evening, the HJC’s fifth legislator, Dharam Singh Chokkar was reported to have faxed his intention of joining the Congress to the Speaker of the Assembly. But legal experts said chances of his joining the Congress were slim as the anti-defection law stipulates that the number of MLAs merging with another party must form at least two-thirds the number of their parent party.
The Bhupinder Singh Hooda government had secured a majority in the Assembly with the support of seven Independent MLAs after the recent elections. The merger is likely to bring down the importance of the Independents for the Congress now.
The HJC MLAs who split from their parent party formed two-thirds of the HJC and were well within constitutional propriety to merge with the Congress.
According to Clause 4 (2) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution: “The merger of the original political party of a member of a House shall be deemed to have taken place if, and only if, not less than two-thirds of the members of the legislature party concerned have agreed to such merger.”
The HJC MLAs who on Monday merged with the Congress are Rao Narender Singh (Narnaul constituency), Satpal Sangwan (Dadri), Vinod Bhayna (Hansi) and Zile Ram Chochra (Assandh).
Congress sources said at least two of the four MLAs, possibly Rao Narender and Satpal Sangwan were likely to be inducted in the Council of Ministers while the other two would get the posts of Chief Parliamentary Secretaries under the “negotiated deal” for the merger.