The BJP is preparing to form the next government in Delhi as it looks set to receive an invitation from lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung. Janakpuri MLA Jagdish Mukhi is the frontrunner for the chief minister’s post. The party will, in all probability, prove its majority on the floor of the assembly via secret ballot.
Top BJP leaders indicated as much Saturday. “Everybody wants to avoid fresh elections in Delhi,” party president Amit Shah said on India TV. “The BJP is the single largest party and it has the right to form the government.”
A BJP leader said the party was expecting an invitation from the L-G any time and it would form the government. The parliamentary board, the BJP’s highest decision-making body, is expected to meet next week, after the L-G’s invite.
The BJP has 28 MLAs in the 67-member House while ally Shiro-mani Akali Dal has one. Needing the support of five more to prove majority, it is understood to have secured the backing of two independents — Rambeer Shokeen and expelled AAP MLA Vinod Kumar Binny. But it is still three short of the magic figure. There was speculation that some Congress and AAP MLAs may abstain from the vote or quit before the floor test.
“We are exploring different options. Some opposition MLAs are disillusioned with their leadership and willing to support us. We are working on the arithmetic,” another BJP leader told HT.
The latest indication of BJP’s intent to take power prompted Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal to knock on President Pranab Mukherjee’s door, requesting him to announce fresh elections.
He said Jung’s plan to invite the BJP to form the government would lead to horse-trading. His party colleague Manish Sisodia said BJP leaders were planning to ‘buy’ MLAs and AAP would conduct a sting operation to expose them.
A new government would end seven months of central rule in Delhi, which plunged into a state of political uncertainty after the Kejriwal government resigned on February 14 just 49 days after taking charge. It would also mark the BJP’s return to power in the Capital after 15 years of the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress regime.
The lack of a charismatic leader to head a fresh poll campaign and the under-preparedness of the organisation is understood to have influenced the BJP’s decision to give government formation a shot.
But Union home minister Rajnath Singh insisted there would be no horse-trading. “If invited, we will think about it. The BJP does not believe in horse-trading. The BJP will never favour a government with horse-trading.”
All this government formation talk has set alarm bells ringing in AAP, which was looking to consolidate its position in fresh elections. Though it didn’t win a single Lok Sabha seat in the recently held general elections — which the BJP swept — its vote share increased by over 3% compared to its tally in last year’s assembly polls.
Since then, AAP has managed to make inroads into the Congress’ minority vote bank while keeping its hold on the lower strata of society intact.