27 July 2021 10:22 AM




Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal: Effective Opposition in Delhi

NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party has locked horns with the Bharatiya Janata Party that appears to be again prodding Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to invite it, as the single largest party, to form the government in Delhi without fresh elections. AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, told The Citizen, that this decision would amount to “murder of democracy.”

The BJP has been flirting with the idea ever since it came to power at the centre but was stopped earlier by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh that did not want ‘horse trading’ charges to be attached to the Modi government. However, an internal assessment that was reported by a section of the Hindi media seems to indicate a shift in the RSS mood as according to this Delhi was not likely to repose full trust in the BJP insofar as the Assembly was concerned.

Kejriwal said that it was clear that the BJP was looking to purchase legislators from AAP and the Congress. “They do not have a majority and where will they get the MLAs from? The legislators are not BJP admirers, they have no affinity for that party, and if any one crosses over it will clearly be for money. So far the BJP has not been able to buy the MLA’s, if they had done so they would have formed the government a while ago. But they are still trying,” Kejriwal said.

He was confident that if elections were held his party would return to power. AAP has filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging Presidents Rule in the state. This is listed to come up before the court on September 9. Reports suggest that Jung has approached President Pranab Mukherjee for a view on this issue, although a final decision will be influenced by the BJP that has been vacillating considerably on this matter.

Kejriwal, with his usual straight arguments, was clear that the short term in power in Delhi had given his party the support of at least 70 percent of poor, lower middle class, marginalised Delhi. He said that the party was positive of the support from the “direct beneficiaries” of his government’s policies listing the low electricity bills, and the virtually negligible water bills, as major initiatives taken by the AAP government. He said that these sections were convinced that only AAP could deliver as “after all the BJP also promised 30 per cent reduction in power tariff but have done nothing till now.”

Kejriwal admitted that there was some anger that he had left the government so early on. “But this was positive anger, as usually people say why is that leader not resigning, and here they were saying, why has he resigned, “ he said. The AAP leader, in response to a question as to why his party had done so dismally in Delhi in the Lok Sabha elections said, “well whether we like to admit or not there was a Modi wave. People wanted Modi as the PM and Kerjiwal as the Chief Minister.”

Asked about allegations that he had a close understanding with the BJP, Kejriwal said he had not heard this canard before. “BJP says I am close to the Congress, Congress says I am close to the BJP, the truth is that the BJP and the Congress are close to each other,” he laughed.

The BJP is seriously worried about the results of the elections in Delhi as rising prices with the price of vegetables soaring sky high, power outages, high bills totting up anger against the BJP. AAP has been working in the slums and lower middle class colonies, with frequent visits from its party workers, and protests every now and again for mobilising the voters. The party also has a clear chief ministerial candidate in Kejriwal, with the BJP still unable to project an acceptable face to counter AAP effectively.

Lt Governor Jung has hooked his horse to the central government cart as he has been ignoring all appeals by AAP and the Congress to order fresh elections. The BJP had won 31 seats, but of these legislators three were elected to the Lok Sabha, bringing its overall tally to 27. AAP had 28 MLAs that has been reduced to 27 after it suspended legislator Binod Kumar Binny. The Congress party has eight legislators and had extended support to the fledgling AAP government.

Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay told reporters that, though the BJP “does not have majority, it would explore formation of a minority government if invited by the LG". The lone JD(U) MLA Shoaib Iqbal said he would not support the BJP.

The BJP has thus painted itself into a Catch 22 position. Defeat in Delhi in the Assembly elections is going to immediately fuel the opposition that will use the results to hammer at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity. A government formed without elections will lead to wide protests, with AAP always formidable in its opposition unlike the Congress party. The BJP will have to climb down from the moral high space, a worrying prospect for PM Modi. The party has been vacillating between both positions, unsure which will be the bigger political devil. The choice currently seems to be veering towards the second option.