Routed by the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress and AAP have intensified back channel negotiations to explore the possibility of government formation in Delhi. In the last one week, Congress MLAs have met a senior AAP leader who asked them to “build pressure on the Congress leadership” to back an AAP-led government again.
In February this year, the Arvind Kejriwal government fell after the Congress refused to support the AAP’s move to bring in a Jan Lokpal Bill. The government lasted 49 days.
The stunning performance of the BJP which swept all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi seems to have brought the AAP and Congress back to the table. MLAs from the Congress and AAP admit they do not wish to contest another election again. “The Congress is afraid of losing more ground to the AAP and BJP in Delhi, while the AAP has little in terms of resources to contest their third election in seven months,” a senior AAP leader said.
A sizable section of the AAP, the leader said, was willing to consider forming a government again. “There is an opinion within the party that we should form a government. Informal discussions with Congress leaders are underway. Whether the Congress party will support or a part of the legislative party will break remains to be seen,” the leader said.
A Congress MLA present at the meeting with the AAP leader confirmed “informal” discussions and said the AAP was asked to “publicly request for Congress support through proper channels, not back channels”. Sources said leaders of both parties also discussed the possibility of another chief minister.
Former Delhi Labour Minister and AAP MLA Girish Soni said, “My opinion is that the AAP should form a government in Delhi. It will save public money. However, the situation at this point is such that the AAP is not in a position to form government on its own.”
Asif Mohammad Khan, Congress MLA from Okhla, told The Indian Express that while his party holds the position of not supporting AAP, “off-track” discussions with senior AAP leaders could not be ruled out.
“No sitting MLA supports fresh elections for obvious reasons, although if we were to support AAP again, it will not be like before. This time, they will have to share positions in government,” Khan said.
Devender Yadav, Congress MLA from Badli, said: “Whether it’s Congress, BJP or AAP, no MLA wants a third round of elections in Delhi. Another election means that no work gets done in the city for another six months and that will just cause more grief to the common man,” he said.
But Congress Legislature Party leader Haroon Yusuf said the party was not considering any move to support AAP or any political party. “I have been hearing such rumours but we are not considering support to AAP. Those who are of the view of supporting AAP within the party are only voicing their personal opinion which is in no way the party’s opinion,” he said.
AICC general secretary and Delhi-in charge Shakeel Ahmed said: “The BJP is behind these rumours. There is no truth to this. In fact, I’ve heard that the BJP has been in talks with the AAP.”