The Bharatiya Janata Party, which fell six seats short of the majority mark in the Assembly after results were declared on Thursday, have garnered the support of Independent candidates in the state. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar reached Delhi on Friday to hold discussions with the party’s Working President JP Nadda and Haryana in charge Anil Jain, ANI reported.

“People have given a mandate to BJP,” said party’s Haryana unit president Subhash Barala. “However, we will introspect on why did the party get seven seats less this time. Both the party and I will learn from [the] results of these elections. We will take steps to strengthen the party in the state.”

Ahead of the meeting in New Delhi with the saffron party’s high command, Khattar expressed confidence in forming the government in the state. “I am optimistic,” he told the media before boarding the helicopter from Chandigarh.

Several top ministers in the Bharatiya Janata Party government lost their seats. The list included five-time MLA Ram Bilas Sharma in Mahendragarh, Cabinet minister Captain Abhimanyu in Narnaund, state BJP chief Subhash Barala in Tohana, and state ministers Kavita Jain, in Sonipat, Manish Grover in Rohtak, Karan Dev in Radaur, Krishan Lal Panwar in Israna and Om Prakash Dhankar in Badli.

While most exit polls had predicted a BJP win, the saffron party faced disappointing results in the state elections with only 40 seats in the 90-member Assembly. The ruling party, which expected to make a comeback, had a target of winning at least 75 seats in the state. The Congress won 31 seats, and the Jannayak Janta Party – which contested its first election – won 10.

The BJP reportedly asked those who won as Independents, which included six party rebels and Indian National Lok Dal President Om Prakash Chautala’s estranged brother Ranjit Chautala, to support it, according to The Indian Express. The party also purportedly received backing from Haryana Lokhit Party’s Gopal Kanda.

“[We] Will support the BJP unconditionally,” Kanda said on Friday, according to NDTV. “My father was in the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, BJP’s ideological parent], so we are part of the family. We have all agreed to support the BJP.” The 53-year-old MLA had resigned from former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s Cabinet in 2012 after allegations were levelled against him for abetting the suicide of an air hostess.

Ranjit Singh Chautala, an Independent leader who won from Raina constituency, extended his support to the saffron party. “I have openly said that I extend my support to Bharatiya Janata Party,” he said, according to ANI. Nayan Pal Rawat, the Independent candidate who won from the Prithla seat, said he supported the BJP. Rawat said he had already met the party’s working president. Sombir Sangwan, the Independent leader who won from Dadri, and Randhir Singh Gollen, the winning candidate from Pundri constituency, also pledged their support to the BJP.

With the support of these four leaders, the BJP’s tally will go up to 44, two short of majority.

Haryana Jannayak Janta Party President Sardar Nishant Singh said that both the BJP and the Congress had reached out to the party to form an alliance. “We will take our decision only after discussing with our elected candidates,” he told ANI. “If there is no clear majority for BJP, obviously the mandate is against them. We will decide our stand after the meeting.”

Meanwhile, the Congress hit out at the Independent leaders who would extend their support to the saffron party. “Independent MLAs who are going to be a part of the Khattar government are digging their own political grave,” Congress leader DS Hooda said. “They are selling the trust of people. People of Haryana will never forgive those who do so. People will thrash them with shoes.”

Following the declaration of the results on Thursday, the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the numbers in Haryana as a victory of their development agenda. “As soon as the BJP once again forms the government in Haryana, public work will speed up through an honest and accountable government in the state,” Khattar said, according to The Indian Express.

BJP President Amit Shah had also indicated on Thursday that the party would stake claim to form the government in Haryana.

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