The better part of Sunday saw reports of back-channel parleys between the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress to resurrect the Delhi government proliferating.
By late evening, however, the AAP had announced it was ready for polls. Congress, on the other hand, denied there were any hush-hush discussions. Now, with all three major parties, including the BJP, officially saying they are prepared for elections, the Capital is certain to face polls soon.
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“At least two leaders from Congress approached more than one of our functionaries, asking them to convey to the top leadership that it is ready to offer support to AAP if we decide to form a government,” AAP sources said, adding, “The proposition was made for the simple reason that after a complete rout in the Lok Sabha polls – what with AAP pushing it to third in Delhi – the Congress is in no mood to face another election.”
The AAP government had resigned on February 14 on the issue of the janlokpal bill. Following a spectacular debut with 28 seats in the December 2013 polls, it had constituted a minority government with outside support from Congress’ eight MLAs.
The BJP-SAD combine had won 32 of the 70 seats, four short of absolute majority, and, hence, had declined to form a government.
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Since AAP relinquished power, Delhi has been under President’s rule. The party had filed a petition in the Supreme Court two months ago, challenging the Centre’s decision to not dissolve the assembly.
This Friday, results showed that the BJP had bagged all seven Lok Sabha seats in the city, and with 32.9% vote share Arvind Kejriwal’s party was at number two.
The assembly segment- wise position vis-à-vis the results made scores of many AAP MLAs jittery about facing a re-election and they took up the issue of putting together a government in Delhi again with the party leadership. “As it is, people have been calling us deserters. Why not go ahead and form a government and show that we can deliver,” one of the legislators told HT.
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The party was split in two over the situation, but, in the end, AAP decided to seek a fresh mandate.
A senior party leader, on condition of anonymity, said, “A lot of issues – moral, ethical – have to be resolved within the party, before we even think of taking the bait. Once you have rejected someone’s support, how can you form the government again with their backing?”
Seeking to end the rumours, AAP spokesperson Ashutosh said, “We are not forming a government in Delhi again, and we are ready for re-polls.”
Denying that there were any back-channel talks, Mukesh Sharma, chief spokesperson, Delhi Congress, claimed, “It is a conspiracy by AAP to create ground for government formation yet again. Kejriwal might even allow defection of his MLAs to BJP, and become the leader of opposition to enjoy the perks. We are very clear – we are not supporting anybody; we are ready for re-elections.”