On AAP's ordinance outreach, Cong leaders ask Kharge, Rahul to say 'no' to Kejriwal, flag BJP's 'B team': Report
Ordinance row: On May 20, the ruling BJP brought in an ordinance to regain control over Delhi government officers, triggering a fresh showdown with the AAP.
Congress leaders from Delhi and Punjab have reportedly warned their party against supporting the Aam Aadmi Party in its battle with the Bharatiya Janata Party over an ordinance giving the centre control over bureaucrats posted to the national capital. Sources told news agency ANI the Congress leaders met party president Mallikarjun Kharge and ex-boss Rahul Gandhi to convey their concerns but then 'left it to the high command to take a final decision'.
The sources declared the AAP to be the BJP's 'B-team'.
AAP boss and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has reached out to multiple opposition leaders over the past few weeks in a bid to drum up support for his cause; the AAP knows it lacks the numbers to defeat the ordinance in the Lok Sabha but is hoping support from outside can help it win in the Rajya Sabha.
While Kejriwal has received a positive response from several quarters - including Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party, the Shiv Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray and Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress - the Congress is a tougher nut to crack, with the party's Delhi figures firmly opposed.
On Saturday Delhi Congress chief Anil Chaudhary said his party ought not to back Kejriwal because of the latter's 'mistake of praising' the BJP earlier.
Chaudhary's comments came after another leader, Ajay Maken, pointed to instances the AAP failed to support the Congress, including over the scrapping of special status for Jammu and Kashmir and in various Assembly elections.
Kejriwal's 'reach-out' to the Congress was also rebuffed by ex-AAP leader Alka Lamba, who is now with the Congress. On news last week he had sought time to meet Kharge and Rahul Gandhi, Lamba tweeted 'AAP should apologise (first)...'
Kejriwal's alliance efforts
In his bid to muster numbers to defeat the BJP and its allies, Kejriwal needs the Congress' 31 Rajya Sabha MPs; that of the Trinamool, the NCP and others on his side so far will fall short of the 93 lawmakers the BJP has on its own.
Apart from Thackeray's Sena, the Trinamool and the NCP, Kejriwal also has Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) and K Chandrashekhar Rao's Bharat Rashtra Samithi in his pocket.
Should the Congress decide not to extend support, Kejriwal may have a possible trump card - Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, who spoke about the need to defeat the ordinance to 'put a check on such unconstitutional measures'.
Nitish Kumar has been active meeting opposition leaders himself as part of what many see as a Congress-led effort to bring major non-BJP outfits on the same page ahead of next year's general election.
AAP's ordinance battle a 2024 election semi-final?
Kejriwal's attempts to drum up support come amid whispers of a possible run at the BJP and prime minister Narendra Modi next year.
In March broadcaster NDTV reported an AAP-led attempt to form a 'third front' - i.e., a non-Congress and non-BJP alternative central government.
Thackeray, Banerjee and Pawar have also pitched their support for the AAP in similar terms; the Bengal chief minister, for example, said her decision to back Kejriwal will 'give us a chance to defeat the BJP before the 2024 polls'.
What is the centre's ordinance?
The ordinance in question was issued May 19, days after a Supreme Court verdict gave the Delhi government control over bureaucrats assigned to departments under its purview.
The ordinance strengthened the position of the Lieutenant Governor - who is appointed by the BJP - allowing him to act in 'sole discretion' in deciding matters related to the transfer and posting of bureaucrats.
The top court had earlier upheld the primacy of Delhi's elected government in this regard, except for matters relating to law and order and land.