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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Delhi: AAP, Cong get talking again to keep BJP out

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 31, 2014
First Published: 23:58 IST(31/5/2014) | Last Updated: 10:22 IST(1/6/2014)

Back-channel negotiations between the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over government formation in Delhi are underway following assessment in both political outfits that the BJP could be major gainer in case elections are held in the Capital in the near future.

Congress sources said several AAP leaders are in regular touch with party general secretary Shakeel Ahmad and Delhi unit chief Arvinder Singh Lovely to explore the possibility of once again “doing business” with each other and stop the BJP from coming to power in the city.

A former Lok Sabha MP from an eastern state and a non-UPA party is also mediating with the Congress on behalf of AAP.

The change of stand in both camps is primarily attributed to their dismal performance in the just-concluded parliamentary polls, and also apprehensions that some of their legislators might cross over to the BJP in the coming days.

Read: Will not support AAP in Delhi at any cost, says Congress

The saffron party won all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and led in 60 segments, while AAP was ahead in 10. The Congress was third on all seats.

While AAP has 27 legislators (the 28th, Vinod Kumar Binny, was expelled by the party) in the 70-member Delhi assembly, the Congress has eight.

The BJP-SAD alliance, on the other hand, has 29 (three of the, initial, 31 BJP legislators have resigned after being elected MPs). There are three independent MLAs.

Congress legislators have also told the central leadership that it would be “extremely difficult” for them to retain their seats if assembly polls are held here in October-November along with Maharashtra and Haryana.

These MLAs have expressed anguish over party general secretary Ajay Maken’s tweet that there is no question of the Congress supporting AAP again. The leadership had then deputed two representatives to do “damage control” and pacify the agitated MLAs with an assurance that “doors are still open for such a move”.

Officially, the Congress was non-committal on supporting the AAP. “We haven’t taken any decision so far,” Ahmad told HT.

Riding on the Modi wave that swept the BJP to power in the general elections, the saffron party is in favour of early polls in Delhi.

AAP leader and former Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had recently written a letter to lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, requesting to put on hold for a week any decision to dissolve the assembly, if at all he was considering it. However, he later withdrew the proposal following Maken’s tweet.

Read: Delhi is asking: can AAP bounce back?

There is intense pressure on Kejriwal, too, from some of his legislators to work out a “compromise formula” with the Congress to stop the BJP “juggernaut”.


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