Delhi govt formation: How PM Modi, BJP plan to keep opponents guessing
Section of BJP led by some MLAs and their patrons are willing to form the government by any means.
Delhi: Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s initiative to explore possibility of government formation has yet again stirred a political hornet's nest in the capital.
In all likelihood, he will get the required Presidential nod to invite the single largest party in the assembly, the BJP, to from the government. At the outset that is a constitutionally valid position, after all the purpose of keeping the assembly in suspended animation is to allow a political realignment and see if it was possible to form a popular government so as to avoid the burden of fresh elections.
As a result all eyes are now on how the BJP will respond should an offer come to it. Given the party had, in December 2013, rejected the L-G's offer to form the government in writing can it now take a U-turn and make an attempt to form the government, even though it does not have the numbers? The Aam Admi Party and the Congress are already up in arms against the move.
There are some other critical questions that follow -- Won't such a move be immoral? Will it not force BJP to indulge in horse trading now or later stages? Can the BJP effectively run a government where it does not have a clear majority, even if it is able to form the government through various political manipulations, essentially thanks to most MLAs fearing fresh elections?
Also won't that adversely impact Narendra Modi’s image? Will the move be of no benefit for the AAP in the long run? Or it is just a trial to gauge public opinion? Or it is a tactic to buy time to avoid going to the polls with Haryana and Maharastra?
The government also has to respond to the Supreme Court about the status of government formation, or about holding elections in Delhi if it can't be done. The L-G and the Centre have to be seen to be making some efforts to install a popular government in the city, otherwise elections in Delhi may become a real possibility either when Haryana and Maharastra goes to the polls, or along with Jharkhand and J&K. The Election Commission has still to announce the poll schedule for the coming assembly elections and the the BJP is hoping to avoid polls in October-November.
A section of BJP wants to concentrate on Haryana and Maharastra, the two states that it hopes to snatch from the Congress. In the meanwhile they would like to do some positive work in the capital, while President's rule prevails, and hold elections in Delhi when it is convenient. The NCR of Delhi may not be a full state and the Delhi assembly and government have only truncated powers, but its political impression is highly disproportionate to its size.
Another section of BJP led by some MLAs and their patrons are willing to form the government by any means. It would mean that the chief minister will have be selected from the available MLAs in the assembly or from those who could get elected from the three seats vacated by Harshvardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri and Parvesh Verma, after becoming MPs. This group of leaders is in no mood to go to polls and claim that there are several MLAs from the AAP and almost all from the Congress who don’t want to face elections for the second time in less than a year.
Then there are other leaders who cite constitutional expert Subash Kashyap’s position that a secret ballot may be held in the assembly as per Section 9 (2) of the NCT Act and Article 175 of the Constitution. The argument took place in UP in 1998 when Kalyan Singh was re-elected to be chief minister of the state. But then that was done in an extreme situation and following a High Court order.
It is possible for the BJP to form the government but it is questionable whether it can run smoothly given it wouldn't have the numbers. The government would need 36 (plus one, assuming that the Speaker will be from the BJP) to get legislative approval for any crucial decisions or to pass any bill. Kejriwal as Leader of Opposition could also prove to be challenging for someone like Jagdish Mukhi, if the BJP gives him the chance to be CM.
A Delhi BJP leader said there was an argument that the BJP should form a minority government, implement its key agenda and then let the government fall in order to seek fresh elections. But others counter that it would be a repetition of Kejriwal experimented with and miserably failed.
The other option is that BJP continues to check the waters and when the offer to form the government finally comes, it declines as it did eight moths back and instead suggest elections. That way Modi’s image will remain intact and the BJP will have got the time it wanted.
A BJP leader said that irrespective of what position all leaders take, ultimately it is Modi’s word which will prevail. Party president Amit Shah has also not given any indication of what he would like the party’s position to be. Till Modi and Shah sit and decide their position on Delhi, the chessboard is open for all for posturing.
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