With the BJP firming up plans to form the government in Delhi by poaching their MLAs, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party Thursday moved in to guard their flocks and thwart the saffron party’s power bid.
While Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed met six of the eight party MLAs, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal attacked lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, who he claimed, was expected to invite the BJP to form the government.
Delhi has been without an elected government for more than five months after Kejriwal quit as the chief minister on February 14. The assembly is under suspended animation.
Senior BJP leader and transport minister Nitin Gadkari said the party had not taken any decision on government formation. As reported by HT, the party was waiting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to return from Brazil to take the final call. The PM was expected home late Thursday or early Friday.
Ahmed, also Congress’ Delhi in-charge, said the six MLAs assured him that they were “dedicated and loyal party soldiers”.
“They conveyed their unflinching loyalty to party Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi,” he said.
There have been rumbling in the Congress ranks, with reports suggesting that some of the MLAs were willing to crossover to the BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) camp.
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On allegations that the BJP had offered money to the Congress and AAP MLAs, Ahmed said, “We too have heard the rumours that the BJP is giving money to our MLAs. Arvind Kejriwal has been given the duty of counting that money.”
The BJP’s attempt to engineer defections MLAs would fail, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, adding the party favoured early elections.
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Kejriwal, in a series of early-morning tweets, questioned Jung’s role and said the L-G should ask for a letter of support from MLAs or he would be acting in a partisan manner.
“Would L-G save his chair or the Constitution -– nation will keenly watch,” he tweeted. By inviting the BJP, Jung would encourage horse-trading, said the AAP leader who sought an appointment with the L-G but was told that July 21 was the earliest available date.
Earlier in the day, he also met party MLAs.
The BJP had never indulged in horse-trading nor would it ever do so, home minister Rajnath Singh said.
Accusing Kejriwal of defaming the BJP, party’s Rajender Nagar MLA RP Singh sent him a defamation notice. Demanding Rs. 1 crore in damages, Singh said the former CM’s claims that the BJP was trying to “buy” AAP MLAs was baseless.
The BJP and SAD together have 29 MLAs and need the support of five more to cross the halfway mark in a reduced 67-member House. The Delhi assembly is a 70-member House but three BJP MLAs vacated their seats on being elected the Lok Sabha. The AAP has 28 MLAs.