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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Wipeout fears: Congress for late Delhi elections

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi and Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 11, 2014
First Published: 00:11 IST(11/8/2014) | Last Updated: 00:14 IST(11/8/2014)

An internal assessment showing that it may be wiped out in Delhi if elections are held right now has prompted a Congress flip-flop on the dissolution of the assembly that was suspended in February this year.

The Congress won eight seats in the December polls. The latest assessment says it might not retain all of them if elections are held immediately.

There is a strong view in the party that polls at a later date would benefit them as PM Modi’s charisma fades.

“We want fresh elections but after some time. The Modi wave has started receding and the BJP is already on back-foot as it has failed to contain price rise in the past 75 days,” a Congress leader said.

The party, which ruled Delhi for 15 years, has voiced differing views on the issue depending on whether it is speaking in the Supreme Court or talking to the public.

On August 5, Congress lawyer K Parasaran told the SC that Delhi’s fate rested with L-G Najeeb Jung after he had considered options for government formation. He had added that the court had no role in the matter since the assembly can remain suspended till February next year.

But out in public, the Delhi Congress chief spokesperson Mukesh Sharma gave a different impression. “Credibility of both the BJP and the AAP is down because of horse trading charges and the development work in Delhi has stopped under L-G’s rule. We want the elections to be held immediately.”

Things heated up last month when panic gripped the Congress after reports that six out of its 8 legislators might switch loyalties and support the BJP in government formation.

The Delhi BJP did not deny the reports but the party high command shot down the idea of forming the government through horse trading as many senior leaders thought it would give the party a bad name at a time when PM Modi’s popularity was at its peak.

After this, almost every single Congress leader demanded that the assembly be dissolved and fresh elections held along with those in four other states. But after the gloomy internal assessment, the party has developed cold feet.

The Delhi assembly was suspended by the L-G after AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal resigned as chief minister on February 14 after being in power for just 49 days.


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