ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Political diary 308
Publication Date : 20-07-2014
Will the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) add one more state to its kitty by forming the government in Delhi?
Capital watchers are speculating after Delhi unit president Satish Upadhyay recently affirmed that the party would consider the formation of a government if Lieutenant Governor Najab Jung invites it.
Since then hectic political activities are going on in the capital. The president's rule ends in August and can be extended for another six months. It was imposed on February 17 after the fall of the Arvind Kejriwal government on the Jan Lokpal bill.
There are three options before the BJP. The first is to form the government – either by poaching on other parties or stake claim for a minority government. The second is to go for assembly polls, which could be held along with Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana. The third is to extend President’s rule for another six months buying time.
The BJP leadership is unable to decide which way to go and is looking to Prime Minister Modi to decide. The BJP high command is presently assessing the pros and cons of such a step even as the local BJP unit is getting restive putting pressure on its leadership to stake claim.
A group within the party led by Health minister Harshvardhan holds the view that the party should not attempt to form the government using unfair means.
Not much has changed in the past few months since the BJP fell four seats short of a simple majority and had refused to form government in December last year. They also think that it will damage the image of Prime Minister Modi. Going for fresh elections and coming back with a bang riding on the Modi magic would be a better choice according to them.
However, there is resistance to face elections so soon as most legislators are not keen for various reasons. Had the party formed the government soon after its massive Lok Sabha victory it would have been different but now facing voters after a poor monsoon, which will inevitably drive up inflation, is a scary prospect.
The petrol price hike and the rising prices and rail fare hike have made the people of Delhi disenchanted with the Modi government. The electricity charges are also threatening to go up. Resistance could also stem from the close contests seen last time as some of the MLAs won with just about 5000-vote margins. One thing that binds all MLAs except perhaps the Aam Admi Party is that no legislator wants to face another elections so soon.
How can the BJP mobilise the magic number except by poaching on other parties? The anti-defection laws have become sharper after amendments in 2003. The BJP needs two thirds of AAP or Congress to get around the law. BJP’s number came down to 28 in the House in May after three of its legislators Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri and Pervesh Verma were elected to Lok Sabha. With their resignation the strength of the Assembly also went down to 67. The NDA has 29 members, AAP 27, Congress eight and Independents three.
The Congress is trying to keep its flock together but reports are appearing that the BJP may be able to break the party with the help of its ally the Akali Dal. With the Congress demoralised after the rout not only in Delhi but also in the Lok Sabha polls, the party is finding it difficult to manage its legislators. If elections are held soon it may be completely wiped out from Delhi.
The AAP, which stormed the Delhi political scene with a bang and formed the government which survived just for 49 days, has lost its credibility and sheen. Many did not like chief minister Arvind Kejriwal quitting so soon, which is why the AAP fared poorly in the Lok Sabha polls. There are rumblings within the party about the style of functioning of Kerjirwal.
The AAP with its ambitious project to contest 400 seats and winning only four in the Lok Sabha polls is yet another disappointment to the party workers. Despite all these Kerjiwal is hoping to win back the confidence of the people of Delhi benefiting from the mistakes of other parties including the BJP.
In such a scenario, the best option for all the parties should be to face a fresh poll even if they fear that they may not get even the existing number of seats. In a democracy, horse trading should stop at some time or the other and if the BJP somehow forms the government by poaching it will not send a good signal for Modi who has been talking about clean politics.
Already, Delhi has experienced President’s rule for six months. When the Lt. Governor explores yet another possibility of installing a popular government, the BJP should set the example. Soon after the Lok Sabha polls there was talk of the BJP forming the government in Bihar but this was foiled when the RJD came to the rescue of the JD (U) and Nitish Kumar bowing out.
So these calculations went awry. The next was Uttarakhand but here too the government did not fall. Now it is the turn of Delhi and the dilemma is quite serious.
The budget for the capital presented in Parliament this week gives an indication that the BJP might opt for polls, as it is a populist budget with an eye on polls. It has no new taxes and promised more night shelters, hospitals, sewage treatment plants and Renuka dam.
Delhi deserves a good and clean government and only fresh polls might provide that. The BJP should resist the temptation of forming a hotch -potch government and opt for fresh polls.