Already unsettled after consecutive defeats in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the Delhi Congress now has a new challenge, but this time from within the party.
Over the last week, senior Delhi leaders have been busy dousing speculation that several of Congress’ eight MLAs were ready to break away and support an AAP or even a BJP government in the capital.
Sources in the party maintained that a few MLAs were ‘unwilling’ to contest fresh elections after the drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections.
“The party has never been in such dire straits. In the last two years, we have lost the municipal, the Assembly and the Parliament elections. Supporting a BJP government means they will still retain power,” a Congress leader said.
On its part, the BJP has said little to dispel the possibility of Congress MLAs joining them. A senior BJP leader claimed that MLAs from both the AAP and the Congress were in touch with BJP leaders and that meetings had been conducted.
However, the BJP officially said such posturing was against the party’s principles.
“Various MLAs have tried to convince us to form the government. We also know that a handful of BJP MLAs too want to form the government, overlooking the party’s stand. But, we are sure that fresh elections will be announced in Delhi,” a senior BJP leader said.
Union Health Minister and Delhi BJP president Harsh Vardhan reiterated that the party would never be involved in horse trading and that the possibility of forming government without fresh elections was negligible.
DPCC chief spokesperson, Mukesh Sharma, too, vociferously denied the possibility of any of the party’s eight MLAs joining another party.
“There is no such chance. No one from the Congress will join the BJP or the AAP. The question simply doesn’t arise,” he said.
He added that reports of a break in the Congress was a “politically motivated rumour”.
“Of the eight Congress MLAs, three are PCC office-bearers. The rest are all party loyalists, who’ve been with the Congress through thick and thin,” Sharma added.
But after the Congress came in third in Delhi, party sources said those who managed to win their seats in Assembly elections in 2013 are looking for some recognition.
“Everyone, even Union Ministers have lost in Delhi. So it is not unthinkable that some of those who did win against all odds, perhaps feel that they deserve a better position in the party,” a senior leader said.