Mumbai/Chandigarh: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday created history in Haryana by securing a clear majority on its own for the first time and finished as the single largest party in a hung house in Maharashtra, leaving former ally and runner up Shiv Sena high and dry.
The verdict placed BJP in pole position to rule Maharashtra as the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) expressed willingness to offer outside support to its government.
The Congress was humiliated in both Haryana and Maharashtra which it had been ruling for two and three consecutive terms respectively.
For the first time, the BJP emerged with a clear mandate in Haryana, winning 47 seats in the 90-member assembly with a 33.2% vote share.
The BJP Parliamentary Party Board met in New Delhi on Sunday evening to discuss chief minister probables for Haryana and Maharashtra. The party later announced it would send senior leaders Rajnath Singh to Maharashtra and Venkaiah Naidu to Haryana to take a decision on the chief ministerial candidates.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, general secretary JP Nadda said he would accompany Rajnath Singh.
On the offer of support from the NCP, Nadda said no call has been taken yet.
The names doing rounds in Haryana include Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh activist Manohar Lal Khattar, state BJP president Ram Bilas Sharma and party spokesperson Captain Abhimanyu. Other names were of leaders, who did not contest, including union ministers Sushma Swaraj, Rao Inderjit Singh and Krishan Pal. Congressman-turned-BJP leader Birender Singh is also in the running.
Senior party sources told that the new government could be sworn in before Diwali which falls on October 23.
In Maharashtra, the BJP won 122 seats in the 288-member assembly, falling well short of the 145 seats required for a simple majority. Its ally Rashtriya Samaj Paksha won one.
With the NCP, which won 41 seats, offering BJP "outside support", leaving the runner up and former ally Shiv Sena high and dry, BJP president Amit Shah said in New Delhi that his party would "form the next government" in the state.
NCP leader Praful Patel said Maharashtra needed stability and so his party was ready to prop up a BJP government.
The Shiv Sena, which ended up with 63 seats, had earlier said it was ready to make up with the BJP, a sentiment shared by some of the latter's leaders, including LK Advani, one of those who was not happy with the decision to dump its ally of 25 long years after a row over seat sharing ahead of elections.
The Congress, which, with the NCP, ruled Maharashtra for 15 years until their alliance collapsed before the elections, finished third with 42 seats.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that nobody from the BJP has approached his party for support, and his party would not approach it with any proposal.
"If (the BJP) they make any proposal, we shall consider it," he said.
Earlier, Maharashtra BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said that while no discussions had taken place with the Sena, "if the need arises, we expect our friends to support us", while Sena leader Anil Desai added that the acrimony between the parties was history.
Amit Shah said the victory in Haryana and the near victory in Maharashtra proved that the "Modi wave" which catapulted the BJP to power in the Lok Sabha battle was still intact.
Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena cut a sorry figure and is likely to end up with just three seats. Independents and smaller parties could have 19 members. The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) made an impressive debut winning two seats while losing three by narrow margins in its first attempt to expand its base outside Hyderabad.
The NCP blamed the Congress for the Maharashtra verdict. Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan accepted responsibility for the Congress rout.
Outgoing Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda also accepted defeat and submitted his resignation to Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki to pave way for formation of the new government.
The BJP's win in Haryana is a big achievement considering it had won only four seats in the 2009 assembly polls.
Kailash Vijayvargiya, in charge of the BJP's party affairs in Haryana, said: "People of Haryana wanted a change. Our party cadres and leaders worked very hard. The credit for our success has to go to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah."
The Congress won only 15 seats, down from its tally of 40 last time. The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) ended with 19 seats, down from 31 seats in 2009.
"This is the Janadesh (public mandate). I accept this and wish well for the incoming government," said Hooda, who has at been at the helm since March 2005.
"The result is a surprise for us (INLD). We will review where we went wrong. People have given their mandate to the BJP. We will extend our support to the government for Haryana's progress," INLD leader Abhay Chautala told media after his party's defeat.
A record 76.54% of Haryana's 1.63 crore electorate voted in the assembly polls this time, while around 64% of the 8.35 crore electorate turned out in Maharashtra.
(With Agency Inputs)