NEW DELHI: After its impressive poll showing in Maharashtra and Haryana, BJP set the ball rolling for government formation in the two states today, as NCP sprang a surprise with its offer of "outside support" in the western state where the saffron party fell short of majority.
The BJP discussed the party's strategy ahead at a meeting of the Parliamentary Board, its highest decision-making body.
Whereas in Haryana with an absolute majority in its favour, the BJP is all set to form a government of its own, in Maharashtra where it has fallen short of a majority it would require an ally, which could likely be the Shiv Sena. BJP secured 122 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.
At a meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the party decided to send central observers to Maharashtra and Haryana to elect a leader of the BJP Legislative Party in both the states.
Sources told PTI that BJP Chief Ministers are likely to take oath before Diwali in both states but government formation in Maharashtra may be delayed and will take place after the festival that falls on Thursday. The party is yet to zero-in on its leader in Haryana, where party leader Manohar Lal Khattar and state unit chief Ram Bilas Sharma are in the race among others.
Party sources said a meeting of newly-elected party MLAs from Haryana will be held in Chandigarh tomorrow to elect its leader and the new government could be in place in the next three days.
The meeting of BJP MLAs in Maharashtra is not slated for tomorrow and may be held in the next two-three days to elect their leader, who will be the Chief Minister. BJP's state president Devendra Fadnavis is the front-runner, the sources added.
While Home Minister Rajnath Singh will go to Maharashtra, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu will go to Haryana. Rajnath will be accompanied by party general secretary J P Nadda to Mumbai and party Vice President Dinesh Sharma will accompany Venkaiah to Chandigarh.
Sources also told PTI that BJP is not averse to taking back its old ally Shiv Sena in its government in Maharashtra. A consensus appears to have been reached on taking back the Shiv Sena in its fold to form a stable government in the state.
Insiders say the RSS also wants that all Hindutva forces should remain united for the long term.
"It is the wonderful blend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's credible leadership and the organisational skills of BJP chief Amit Shah that have worked in favour of the BJP in both the states," Nadda told reporters after the meeting.
The party, however, remained tight-lipped on its strategy for Maharashtra, where the Sharad Pawar-led NCP is more than keen to offer support to BJP.
"The people of Maharashtra have not given mandate to any single party. No party is in a position to form a stable government on its own. Keeping in mind the interest of Maharashtra people, we feel we should support the party which can form the government. Maharashtra needs a stable government," NCP leader Praful Patel told reporters.
Briefing the media after about two-hour long meeting, Nadda said a two-page resolution was passed by the board, crediting the victory to Modi's leadership and organisational skills of Amit Shah.
"The results demonstrate that the people have appreciated the good governance and various welfacre measures during the last four months by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre ably led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has emerged as the most popular leader of the entire nation and won the hearts of the masses," read the resolution passed by the BJP Parliamentary Board.
The board also expressed gratitude to voters of both the states, while accepting the mandate with "deep sense of humility", he said.
In the resolution, the board said the mandate was a clear approval of Modi's "credible" leadership and the policies of four months, which "took care of all sections of society".
The mandate showed the confidence of people in Modi's governance, Nadda said. The board also took note of the fact that Congress has been reduced to third position in both the states due to its "mis-governance and corruption", Nadda said.
"The BJP accepts this mandate with a deep sense of humility...The party expresses its deep sense of satisfaction over the results of the Maharashtra and Haryana State Assemblies. This result is a reaffirmation of the popular faith in the BJP and in the leadership of Narendra Modi, who campaigned extensively and led the campaign in both states," the resolution further stated.
Besides Fadnavis, senior state BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly, Eknath Khadse is also believed to be in the race for chief minister.
Khadse, who was state irrigation minister during Sena-BJP government in 1995, has been winning his constituency since the past 25 years.
His aspiration for the top job became evident when he said, "North Maharashtra is yet to get a chance to see its representative at the helm. Once the BJP-Shiv Sena comes to power, this demand should be considered."
Pankaja Munde, the eldest daughter of late Union Minister Gopinath Munde, had claimed that BJP workers want her to become the state's chief minister.
After Munde's demise in a road accident earlier this year, Pankaja emerged as her father's political successor in Marathwada.
Earlier in the day, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari rubbished speculations of him being in the race for Chief Minister.
"I am not in the race for chief ministership as I am not interested in returning to state politics, and there are many capable leaders," he said.