Delhi: Congress can break logjam without voting for BJP

  • Vinod Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Dec 11, 2013 09:09 IST

The political logjam in Delhi can be overcome if the Congress were to think out of the box. The party reduced to a rump in the recent polls can recoup some of the goodwill it lost by asking its elected legislators to take oath only after the minority BJP government has taken a trust vote.

The initiative must be announced publicly with the caveat that the party’s purpose was to pre-empt another election and ensure a government in Delhi. As the absence of eight Congress MLAs will bring down the House strength to 62, the 31-member BJP will romp home with the support of the sole Independent. The confidence vote is decided by those present and voting.

As there will be no Congress vote registered in the BJP’s favour in the assembly records, the gesture wouldn’t compromise its principled position against the sangh parivar ideology. It instead will look reasonable and magnanimous in the face of the massive defeat. In doing so, the Congress wouldn’t as much help the BJP as the people of Delhi.

The decision, if at all, must be announced by the party’s top leadership. Once its legislators are sworn in, the minority character of the saffron regime will be all too visible. And the credit for its continuation will go more to the Congress than the second-largest entity--- the Aam Aadmi Party of Arvind Kejriwal --- that’ll be averse to pulling it down at whim.

That’s the only way out of the impasse without compromising on fundamental differences between the two national parties. Other options to have a government are foreclosed by Kejriwal’s non-negotiable policy of equidistance from the BJP and the Congress.

Conventionally, a fractured mandate means that people want parties to work together on the basis of a minimum agenda. The AAP’s maximalist position isn’t informed by such precedents. 

In the obtaining scenario, Kejriwal is only being realistic in spurning suggestions of support from the Congress. Theirs’ is a group of first-timers with lots of enthusiasm but no administrative experience.

A former Revenue Service officer, Arvind Kejriwal might make a good CM. But he’d be hamstrung by the limited human resource he has for setting up the council of ministers.

Given the limitations, the AAP leader would be better off occupying the Opposition benches. A stint in the legislature will help his team learn the ropes without the pressure of delivering on pre-poll promises that many consider as undeliverable.   

Given the moral high ground it has taken since Anna Hazare’s anti-graft movement, pragmatism doesn’t come easily to Team Kejriwal. It’s too protective of the sheen and the esteem it has among its supporters. But to look different, the party cannot remain indifferent to the responsibilities that come with electoral support.

Kejriwal’s team has been mandated to be the principal Opposition. It’s time therefore that from being habituated agitators, they tried becoming good legislators.

For his part, the BJP’s Harshvardhan will have to manoeuvre well in the limited space he has. That alone can keep going his minority regime. Or else the AAP would have reasons to disturb the applecart. But the stage for it all has to be set by the Congress. Will it pick up the gauntlet?


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