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Delhi faces President's rule, stares at election replay

Nivedita Khandekar and Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 10, 2013
First Published: 00:40 IST(10/12/2013) | Last Updated: 15:25 IST(10/12/2013)

With the continuing reluctance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to stake a claim to form a government in Delhi, the national capital seemed headed for President’s Rule and a subsequent re-election in a few months.

Any party needs a minimum of 36 seats to form the government in Delhi. The single-largest party, the BJP, is four short of this figure with 32 seats.

AAP, which made an impressive debut, has 28 seats in the 70-member Assembly. Since counting ended on Sunday without a clear majority to any party, both the BJP and AAP have said that they would prefer to sit in the Opposition. On Monday, they reiterated that stand.

However, in a late night twist to the post-poll uncertainty in Delhi, senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Prashant Bhushan told the news channel NDTV that his party may consider supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party if it gave his party a written commitment to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill on Delhi’s Ramlila ground on December 29 and conceded other key demands.

Read: BJP firm on not forming minority govt

Bhushan added that this scenario was, however, highly unlikely given the kind of politics that BJP is currently pursuing.

The entire BJP leadership, including prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, is of the view that the party should not form the government since it does not have the requisite numbers.

Sensing a real chance of returning to power at the Centre after the 2014 general elections, the BJP is possibly playing safe by taking the moral high ground.

BJP’s Delhi election in-charge Nitin Gadkari called a meeting on Monday to discuss the issue. It was attended by its chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan and other senior leaders.

“The national leadership is clear the BJP does not want to stake any claim, even if there is an invitation from the Lieutenant Governor. The party is ready to go for re-elections,” said a party source.

Read: Delhi could go back to pre-1993 days

“Delhi has given me a mandate, but not the majority I require. I am also not interested in directly or indirectly indulging in any manipulation to reach a majority,” Vardhan said.

After a meeting of its newly-elected MLAs, AAP stuck to its stand too. “We will prefer a re-election but not form a government.”

Party leader Arvind Kejriwal said: “Since the last one year, we were the real opposition on issues that concerned the common man. Now we are officially in that role.”

“If both parties continue to stick to their stand, the LG can send a note to the Ministry of Home Affairs recommending President’s Rule. After getting approval from the Union cabinet, the MHA will send it to Parliament for ratification,” official sources said.

Read: Hung assembly shifts focus from parties to L-G Jung

If that happens, Delhi may be under President’s Rule for six months before a re-election that may possibly take place along with the 2014 general elections.

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