The BJP seemed inclined to take a shot at forming the government in Delhi, a day after lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung sent a report to President Pranab Mukherjee. Sources said the home ministry was in favour of exploring options for government formation and the same was expected to be conveyed to the LG on Saturday.
Even if the party declines, it would only be after an “earnest effort”, a BJP source said Friday.
Jung had written to Mukherjee recommending that the single largest party be given a chance to come to power, and Rashtrapati Bhawan had in turn forwarded the request to the home ministry. On Friday, the ministry gave its consent to Jung’s request.
Delhi has been under central rule since the AAP government stepped down in February.
The task, though, isn’t easy. The BJP has 28 MLAs while its ally, the Akali Dal, has one. It needs the support of five more MLAs to prove its majority in the 67-member assembly. While two independents are understood to have pledged their support, the party is still three shy of the magic figure. Making up the numbers would require defections in the rival camp — an idea the BJP was initially averse to.
The impasse comes up before the Supreme Court on Tuesday and a clearer picture may emerge after that.
The BJP leadership was initially reluctant, given the lack of numbers in the House. But sources said a section argued for the installation of a minority government, thus leaving it to the opposition parties to either topple it or let it survive through abstention from voting.
“The party will take a decision,” a guarded home minister Rajnath Singh said after a meeting with transport minister Nitin Gadkari, who is the party’s Delhi in-charge.
Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay, who also met Singh, said, “If invited, we will explore all possibilities to form government by constitutional means. We are a political party and giving good governance to Delhiites is our responsibility.”
Many BJP leaders were earlier in favour of fresh elections. But with key assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana in the coming months, the party believes January-February would be the “best time” to hold polls in Delhi.
This would give it more time to prepare — by stepping up civic work and allowing winter to cool off high food prices — while good results in the assembly polls would help its prospects in Delhi.
The party won all seven of the city’s Lok Sabha seats in the April-May general elections but fears the AAP may still have an edge in the local polls. This is because the general elections saw the Arvind Kejriwal-led party increase its vote share from the December 2013 assembly polls.