Elections to the 70-member Delhi assembly may be held alongside the Lok Sabha polls as the Congress is veering round to the view that it may be in the best interests of the party and Delhi that polls are held as soon as possible.
In a report to the Centre on Saturday, Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung recommended the imposition of President’s rule in Delhi with the assembly placed under suspended animation. Before the Cabinet meeting called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday evening, Congress leaders had indicated that the party was uncomfortable at the prospect of simultaneous elections and was keen to explore ways to delay the dissolution of the assembly.
But on Sunday, a senior Congress leader suggested that the party was rethinking this strategy.
Apprehension that some legislators from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the Congress could walk into the BJP camp possibly prompted this change of heart. With 32 seats, the saffron party needs just four more to form a majority government in Delhi.
Government sources said the Cabinet’s recommendation regarding the future of the Delhi assembly hadn’t reached Rashtrapati Bhavan by Sunday evening, indicating that it may be possible for the Cabinet to revisit its decision to keep the assembly in suspended animation. A second, less embarrassing option would be to quickly seek parliamentary approval for President’s Rule and then dissolve the House.
Congress leaders said the party had come around to the view that there was no reason not to accept outgoing chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s recommendation for the assembly’s dissolution since AAP still had majority in the House. “If AAP has the majority with the support of the Congress, obviously no other political formation can stake claim without breaking either AAP or the Congress. We have not withdrawn support to AAP so far,” a senior Congress leader said.