Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Thursday said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should be given an opportunity to form the government in Delhi, evoking strong reaction from her party colleagues.
Dikshit told news agency Asian News International (ANI) that if BJP leaders were claiming they had the numbers, then they must have been saying so with a “sense of responsibility”.
“I am glad that the people of Delhi will get an elected government maybe. And if the BJP is claiming that they will be able to form a government, I think they should be put to the test. The BJP’s claim must have some basis as the president of their party is saying so,” Dikshit, who recently returned to Delhi after spending seven months in Kerala as the state’s governor, told ANI.
The Congress, however, was quick to distance itself from the comments with party leaders claiming that whatever Dikshit said was her personal opinion. Delhi Congress spokesperson Mukesh Sharma was the first one to react and immediately found support in senior party colleagues and AICC general secretaries Shakeel Ahmad and Ajay Maken.
Watch:Sheila Dikshit backs BJP
The party, though, was in favour of dissolution of the House and fresh elections in the Capital.
“Sheila Ji’s comments on govt formation in Delhi may be her personal opinion. Congress MLAs & AICC r totally against extending support to BJP (sic),” Ahmad tweeted.
Shiela Ji's comments on Govt formation in Delhi may be her personal opinion We are against BJP forming Govt. b'cause they don't have numbers— Ajay Maken (@ajaymaken) September 11, 2014
Dikshit had earlier said she was talking on behalf of the people of Delhi, who deserved an elected government.
“If you do not have an elected government, then in democracy, it’s not a very suitable situation because the people do not know where to go, what to do,” said the 76-year-old.
Congress spokesperson Mukesh Sharma also said the party was “shocked” by Dikshit’s statement.
“We are shocked by her statement on government formation. The Congress has nothing to do with it. Our stand is very clear. We will not let the BJP form government,” Sharma said.
The Delhi BJP, however, praised Dikshit for her “straightforward” statement while the Aam Aadmi Party said that it was not surprised as “there is hardly any difference between the BJP and the Congress”.
“Sheilaji is a veteran leader. She understands the constitutional nitty-gritty and has the experience of running a government. As a political leader, her comment is mature,” Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), however, said that it was not surprised as "there is hardly any difference between BJP and Congress".
Senior party leader Ashutosh Srivastava said, "I am not surprised by Sheila Dikshit's statement because we have been saying for a long time that there is good understanding between the BJP and the Congress."
"The another reason behind her statement is that there are three FIRs against Sheila Dikshit. And if Aam Aadmi Party forms government... Sheila Dikshit will have no other option but to go to jail. She is desperate to avoid going to jail and she doesn't want investigation to happen and that's why, Congress and BJP are coming together."
(with PTI inputs)