As Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung recommended imposition of President’s rule in the national capital, overruling the AAP government’s demand for dissolution of the Assembly and holding fresh elections, both the Congress and the BJP appeared to be in favour of placing Delhi under central rule for now. According to their political calculations, the two parties believe that keeping the Assembly under suspended animation will work to their advantage.
The two parties feel a spell of President’s Rule will take the momentum away from the Aam Aadmi Party, which is hoping to ride on the fall of the Jan Lokpal Bill and play the victim card. Congress sources said the party cannot afford to go to polls soon, not just because it is yet to recover the ground it lost to the AAP, but also because it feels holding the Assembly elections with the Lok Sabha elections could put the BJP in an advantageous position. Many opinion polls have predicted a rout for the Congress in the general elections, and Congress leaders admit that the party is facing a formidable challenge from the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. They point out that local issues tend to take a backseat when simultaneous polls are held. Besides, Congress strategists also feel that the AAP’s appeal is tapering off fast and it would be prudent to wait for some months so that it loses the momentum.
The BJP, on the other hand, wants to put its divided house in order first and focus on the Lok Sabha elections. Besides, party strategists feel that indulging in any kind of horse trading now could send a wrong message ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress has already alleged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal resigned because of revolt by some MLAs.
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“The Congress did not withdraw its support. The AAP government decided to resign because it was aware of the fact that some of its MLAs are preparing to leave the party. Besides, they wanted to focus on the Lok Sabha elections as they have national ambitions,” said Congress general secretary in charge of Delhi Shakeel Ahmed.
With the Lok Sabha elections set to be held soon, the BJP would like to play safe and project an image of reason and sobriety, in contrast to the “anarchist” image of the AAP in Delhi. “We will not object to whatever decision the L-G takes. The ball is in his court,” said Prabhat Jha, BJP’s Delhi in-charge.
The party’s decision is based on its calculation that both dissolution of the Assembly or keeping it under suspended animation suits it.
Realising that it is going to be pitted directly against the AAP in Delhi, whether in the Lok Sabha or the Assembly elections, the BJP Saturday fielded Harsh Vardhan at the central party office to launch an attack on Kejriwal. Vardhan alleged that Kejriwal’s resignation was part of a “script prepared by the Congress”.