Haryana cabinet induction: BJP rebels, JJP’s senior leader despondent over being left out

Eight legislators of the BJP, many of them surprise picks, an Independent and one Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) MLA were sworn in on Thursday at Raj Bhawan
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Published on Nov 17, 2019 10:43 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh

The recent induction of 10 MLAs in the Haryana council of ministers was not without dissonance and indignation. Eight legislators of the BJP, many of them surprise picks, an Independent and one Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) MLA were sworn in on Thursday at Raj Bhawan. The BJP had on October 27 formed the government with the support of 10 JJP MLAs.

Five BJP rebels-turned-Independents, who had lent support to the saffron party after it fell short of simple majority in the 90-member Haryana assembly, were ignored by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and the party high command during the cabinet induction.

The only other Independent sworn in as a cabinet minister was Rania MLA Ranjit Singh. However, Ranjit, younger sibling of former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, does not bring any value to the alliance, political analysts say.

A number of senior BJP MLAs — Kamal Gupta, Seema Trikha, Abhe Singh Yadav — also did not make it to the council of ministers despite having strong claims on the basis of their seniority.

Dadri MLA Sombir Sangwan, who contested as an Independent after being denied a BJP ticket, said all Jat legislators inducted as ministers — JP Dalal and Kamlesh Dhanda from the BJP and Ranjit Singh (Independent) — have no political identity.

“Their induction will not bring any political gain either to the BJP or the alliance. I would have outshined them had I become a minister because of my public connect and clean image. There was a lobby which worked against me and made sure I do not make it to the top. They could not digest the fact that I won by over 14,000 votes despite being denied a BJP ticket,” Sangwan said.

BJP rebel who won from Pundri, Randhir Gollen, said, “The party has perhaps taken us for granted.”

“We will stay committed to the organisation. But I have a feeling that the BJP high command thinks Yeh toh BJP ke hain, kahan jayenge ( All of them are from the BJP. Where would they go),” he added.

Meham MLA Balraj Kundu, who too contested as an Independent after the BJP refused to give him a ticket, was sarcastic when he said, “The BJP high command probably thinks we are not qualified. We were not given tickets as the BJP felt we were not eligible. But we won. We gave unconditional support to the BJP when the party needed it badly. And we were told that we would be honoured.”

The first-time MLA, who won by over 12,000 votes, said if one took into consideration the regional aspect for cabinet berths, he was the only non-Congress MLA from Rohtak area.

“There is a strong lobby which ensured that I do not make it to the cabinet because it would have hurt their interests,” Kundu said.

Independent MLA from Prithla, Nayan Pal Rawat, however, said picking MLAs for the cabinet was the prerogative of the CM and the high command. “We have to work for the welfare people. Whatever party did would be in the interest of the people,” he said.

Heartburn in JJP too

All does not appear to be well in the JJP camp too.

Senior leader Ram Kumar Gautam, who had defeated Capt Abhimanyu to win Narnaund assembly seat, was ignored for a cabinet berth despite his seniority and political standing. Uklana MLA Anoop Dhanak was the only one chosen from the JJP camp as a minister.

Gautam did attend the meeting of the JJP legislative party on the morning of November 14, but was conspicuous by his absence during the oath-taking ceremony a couple of hours later.

Party sources said Gautam, who is known to be a vocal individual, remained unusually quiet during the meeting, which was a sign of his angst.

“My presence was not required at the swearing-in ceremony,” he said. When asked about his exclusion despite his seniority, Gautam said, “This is Dushyant’s party. It is his wish. Being senior has nothing to do with the exclusion. It’s all in the game.”

Analysts say it’s a matter of time before the outspoken leader starts training guns on the BJP and JJP leadership for ignoring his claim.

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