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The leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party has started intensive consultations on two crucial issues -- whether to form a government in Delhi and who the new party president will be — and decisions could come soon.
“The discussions have started... There should be some clarity within the next week,” a BJP leader told HT, pointing that there were conflicting views on both subjects that needed to be reconciled at a series of meetings of senior leaders in the Capital.
BJP leaders told HT the party did not anticipate any problems getting the numbers to come to power in Delhi but did not want to be seen as hungry for power. This could cost it the high moral ground it has assumed, and give the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a clear number 2, a stick to beat it with.
But with legislators from AAP and Congress said to be “in touch” with it, the BJP hasn’t given up the option of forming a government. This would avoid a fresh campaign under a new leader after its CM candidate Harsh Vardhan was elected to the Lok Sabha and became a minister in the Modi cabinet.
A party leader said getting someone appointed as CM in the existing assembly would avoid the factionalism that would accompany picking a new candidate and running a full campaign under him or her. Also, forming a government now would shut out any threat from AAP, which polled 3.6% more votes in the Lok Sabha polls than it did in the assembly election.
After three of its MLAs including Vardhan, were elected MPs, the BJP, in combination with the Akali Dal, has 29 seats in the Delhi assembly, five short of an effective majority in the now 67-strong House.
The appointment of Rajnath Singh as Union home minister is also set to force a change in the presidency of the party.
General secretary JP Nadda, a former minister from Himachal Pradesh, is the front-runner for the top job in the party. His main challenger is general secretary Amit Shah, who steered the BJP to a splendid victory in the electorally key state of Uttar Pradesh.
But at least three members of BJP’s parliamentary board, the party’s top decision-making body, do not rule out the remote possibility of its Gujarat in-charge Om Mathur, a former RSS pracharak, emerging as a compromise candidate. “RSS pracharaks are lobbying for Mathur. They see an opportunity after long to have a pracharak as BJP chief,” another BJP leader said.