Congress MLA from Okhla Asif Mohammad Khan and Mustafabad MLA Hasan Ahmed on Friday admitted that the party has been in talks with Aam Aadmi Party for weeks regarding government formation in Delhi.
The Congress, during these talks, had demanded more say in policy-making. The Congress leaders said prior to AAP’s allegations of horse-trading, the process of forging an alliance between the Congress and the AAP was almost complete.
Khan said the talks between the AAP and the Congress had begun in June. “Initially, the AAP wanted us to extend unconditional support to it, in order for the party to form government in Delhi. We had met AAP’s top leadership, including Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh,” he said.
According to Khan, the AAP’s allegations of horse-trading came after the party’s top leadership felt that there was a possibility of a break-away faction of the Congress supporting the BJP. “After making such baseless allegations, I don’t want any meeting with the AAP to take place behind closed doors. Everything should be in the public domain now,” he said.
He told Newsline that a number of differences in ideological stands of the two parties were discussed during the political bargaining that ensued. “One of the big issues that was discussed during these meetings was the stand that the AAP was going to take up on the Jan Lokpal. It was decided that the AAP would adopt a soft stand on it,” he said.
Another issue that was discussed during these talks was regarding who would become the chief minister. The Congress had said it would be difficult for it to support an Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi. “To this, Manish Sisodia had offered that we support him as the CM candidate of Delhi, instead of Kejriwal,” Khan said.
Hasan Ahmed said a proposal to share power in Delhi was also being discussed with the AAP. “One of the proposals that was discussed was the possibility of sharing power in Delhi. The Congress wanted more say in policy-making,” he said.
Khan said after meetings between Congress and AAP leaders, the AAP had continued conversations with him.
“I attempted to bring about a consensus among the Congress MLAs to forge an alliance with the AAP. But this was met with opposition from the Congress high command,” he said.
Khan said the AAP was reticent about appointing Congress leaders as ministers, which had initially stalled the talks. “But later they were open to the idea of appointing a senior leader within the Congress Legislature Party as minister. Initially, they had suggested that Congress leaders be placed at the helm of various committees in Delhi,” he said.
Asked about these allegations, Manish Sisodia said, “They are lying. I don’t even have their phone numbers. I have never met them to discuss government formation. We keep meeting each other when we participate in television debates and social functions. On such occasions, remarks are made from both sides about forming the government.”
The AAP also denied the Congress claims of holding talks with them on government formation. “We ask them to provide a single evidence to back their claims and put it in the public domain. These statements are being made because of the mounting pressure on them. Following the developments in the last four days, these six Congress MLAs have nowhere to go,” Sisodia said.
Asif on Thursday had released a video of him speaking to AAP leader Ilyas Azmi. Asif claimed that the video was one of many meetings between him and the AAP leadership. Azmi is a member of the AAP political affairs committee. He had previously struck out at Kejriwal and said the AAP chief was working in an “autocratic manner”. He had alleged that all decisions regarding distribution of Lok Sabha tickets were being made by a few senior leaders. Azmi had wanted to contest Lok Sabha polls from the Lucknow but the party had given him a ticket from Lakhimpur Kheri, which he declined.
Cong MLAs speak out
Arvinder Singh Lovely, Gandhi Nagar MLA: “We are ready for fresh elections and there is no question of a break. The AAP and BJP’s lies are in the open. The Delhi Budget, for instance, is a direct insult to those who live in unauthorised colonies.”
Haroon Yusuf, Ballimaran MLA: “We are prepared for fresh polls. The BJP’s Delhi Budget is direction-less and the party has exposed its true face.”
Asif Mohammad Khan Okhla MLA: “I have been in talks with the AAP over government formation and an alliance between the parties is still not off. Earlier, meetings took place in Noida, behind closed doors. But if AAP wants fresh talks, it has to be in the public domain.”
Prahlad Singh Sawhney Chandni Chowk MLA: “We are not allying with anyone. We don’t have the numbers. The decision will be taken by the Congress high command.”
Hasan Ahmed Mustafabad MLA: “There is no question of leaving the Congress. I have been here for decades and this is my family. We had spoken to AAP about an alliance, but that didn’t work out.”
Mateen Ahmed Seelampur MLA: “We are not allying with anyone. All talks that were taking place between Congress and others have ended. We are looking to move forward.”