BJP has no choice: It must fight Assembly polls in Delhi

New Delhi: News channels went crying hoarse over BJP’s move to form a new government in Delhi on the weekend, sadly the situation remains the same as it was after President’s Rule was imposed in February this year. The onus is now on the BJP to push for the numbers rather than anyone else, and it will do more good for them to go for an election rather than indulge in Assembly arithmetic.

Even though the BJP may have raised the pitch after getting a new state president in Delhi eager to prove to his new national president about his negotiating skills, it doesn't seem to have cut much ice with the rebel MLA's of various parties. The Congress for now seems confident that their flock, and has ruled out supporting AAP in their effort to beat BJP to the task. "I can assure you that none of our MLA's will go anywhere," claimed Shakeel Ahmed, general secretary in charge of Delhi Congress and senior leader. "I have met and spoken to all of them, no one is leaving the party," he said.

 BJP has no choice: It must fight Assembly polls in Delhi

Poll again. AFP

The intensity with which the BJP back room managers approached MLA's of AAP and Congress had left both parties worried. AAP hurriedly called a meeting of its MLAs on 17 July to discuss the situation. Apart from expelled MLA, Vinod Kumar Binny, rest of the 27 MLA's have stood behind Arvind Kejriwal. The focus was again on Congress with just eight MLA's in the 70 member House makes them the most vulnerable. If six of them break free, the anti-defection law will be rendered ineffective. Though there is no denying that Congress MLA's were in touch with other parties, but they seem to know where to draw the line. "I have won five times on a Congress ticket," says Jai Kishen, Congress MLA. "I was, am and will always a loyal Congress worker," he reacted on reports of him switching loyalties.

BJP is down to 28 MLA's after three of its legislators, Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri and Pervesh Verma were elected to Parliament in May this year. With the strength of the house down to 67 from 70, the saffron party needs six more MLA’s to form a stable government. Even if they include rebel AAP MLA Binny, SAD MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa and Independent MLA Rambeer Shokeen, they still fall three short of the magic number. They would need at least 18-20 of AAP MLA’s to break away to avoid the anti-defection Law, so that option has been ruled out for now. The other problem for BJP is the fact that four out of the eight Congress MLA's are Muslims. The only way to cobble together a breakaway faction of six MLA's would require the consent of some of these four MLA's. Reports suggested BJP was in touch with Congress MLA's Mateen Ahmed (Seelampur) and Asif Mohd Khan (Okhla), but Asif denied having any truck with them. "I am not leaving or joining any party," is all he had to say on the latest developments.

Though none of the MLA's are in favour of fresh elections, the current political dynamics point towards that certainty only. If Muslim MLA’s from Congress decide to jump ship, they are doomed in the next election whenever it happens. With a coalition government, there are no guarantees about its stability as well. Congress realises this better than anyone else, hence they always knew that after all discussions and offers their flock will be back to where they belong. "We are committed to ensuring that we stop BJP from forming a government in Delhi," says Sandeep Dikshit, former MP and close aide of Rahul Gandhi. "If BJP is so sure about the so called Modi wave, then why are they running away from having elections, why try to indulge in horse trading," he questioned the BJP's intentions.

Though BJP state president Satish Upadhyaya did meet Home Minister Rajnath Singh to apprise him of the current political scenario, forming a coalition government looks a bleak possibility. The BJP needs to convince its MLA's that their best chances of stability lie in making the effort of contesting an election again. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's budget for Delhi and his party’s claim of the power subsidy of up to Rs 1.20 per unit of electricity which will benefit around 80 percent the city's power consumers is a step in that direction. As for the Congress, nothing can get worse, so it's best to let the waters run over before they can hope to raise the flag of revival.

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Updated Date: Jul 21, 2014 20:47:04 IST