Even as Delhi continues to operate without an elected government, AAP MLAs on Tuesday said they have been approached by the BJP to break away from the party and help BJP form the government.
Five AAP MLAs told Newsline that they were contacted either over the phone or through intermediaries and had been promised financial incentives for breaking away from the party.
In May, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had written to the Lieutenant-Governor asking him not to dissolve the Assembly as the AAP wanted to “ask the people” if they should form a government again, indicating that another tie-up with the Congress was possible.
A day later, however, the party had backtracked and said there was little or no possibility of forming the government and that there was no need to consult citizens of Delhi.
Rajesh Garg, AAP MLA from Rohini, said, “We have been approached by the BJP on several occasions. On Monday, after our meeting with the Lieutenant-Governor over the e-rickshaw issue, a man who claimed to have links with the BJP met me. He said the Congress or the AAP won’t come to power if fresh elections are held. He suggested that it was best if I broke away from the AAP and even said that if I had any conditions — if I wanted some money for it — he would speak to the BJP top leadership and arrange it.”
Similarly, AAP MLA from Trilokpuri constituency, Raju Dhingan alleged that many BJP workers in his area had contacted him. “I was offered money and ministerial positions on several occasions by BJP workers. A couple of days ago, a Supreme Court lawyer had approached me and claimed that he was in touch with a few other AAP MLAs who were willing to break away from the party. He suggested that I do the same.” Incidentally, another AAP MLA Manoj Kumar also claimed that a Supreme Court lawyer had approached him two days ago.
AAP leader and former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the party leadership was aware that the BJP was attempting to break the party, and that it “was giving the party confidence” that MLAs were not susceptible to these requests.
“MLAs have been contacted by the BJP, and on each occasion, they have come and told us. Every time they are approached, they come to me or Arvind and we are always kept in the loop. No MLA is taking up these offers, and this gives the AAP more strength,” Sisodia said.
The BJP, on the other hand, did not deny that the party was in touch with the AAP. “In politics, it is natural for MLAs of one party meet those of another. But it is irresponsible on their part to claim that we are trying to break their party and that we have offered them money or other incentives,” Harish Khurana, Delhi BJP spokesperson, said.