The Congress continued their aggressive criticism of the BJP, maintaining that the only option in Delhi was “fresh elections” and all talk of a secret ballot was intended to obfuscate the issue.
“The talk of secret ballot is not Constitutionally possible. Only fresh elections can lead to a government in Delhi. The only other possibility is if the BJP indulges in horse-trading and uses unethical tactics to form a government,” Congress general secretary and in-charge of Delhi Shakeel Ahmed said.
He said in the last few months, the BJP had made a number of “attempts to poach its MLAs to form a government in Delhi”.
But, despite the official stand, a section of the Congress admitted that it was wary of fresh elections in the capital and said the party was still recovering from its defeat in the Assembly elections in December.
“We are simply not in a state to contest elections and win. The more time we get in this current state, the more we can rebuild,” a senior Congress leader said.
The Congress’s reluctance to go to polls again was reflected when they had joined hands with their political rivals — the BJP — and opposed a petition in the Supreme Court, wherein the AAP had sought that the Delhi Assembly be dissolved and fresh polls be held.
Despite the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee maintaining that they were “ready for fresh elections”, the Central leadership of the party seemed ambivalent.
In the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the party had said it was not against elections, but “it is not desirable and conducive to public interest to hold frequent elections for short durations”.
Now that Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung has written to the President, seeking permission to invite the BJP to form the government in Delhi, the Congress has joined the AAP in its criticism of the BJP and their “underhand tactics”.
Meanwhile, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the party was in contact with the Congress, the JD(U) and some “honest” BJP legislators to prevent the saffron party from forming government in Delhi through ill means”.
Kejriwal also claimed that the BJP was in touch with 15 AAP MLAs and he would come out with “more sting tapes if the need arises”.
In the Lok Sabha elections in April, while neither the Congress nor the AAP won a seat, the Congress’s loss in terms of vote share was far greater, with the AAP making massive inroads into constituencies that were traditionally Congress bastions.
“The AAP capitalised on the anti-BJP votes. While we have been making efforts to rectify this, fresh elections right now might be too soon for the party. Many within the Delhi unit don’t believe that the party has recovered enough,” a senior Congress leader said.
Congress MLA Mateen Ahmed — who had allegedly been in talks with the BJP over government formation — summed up the Congress’s predicament.
“There is no question of whether the party is prepared for elections. If elections are announced, we’ll have to be prepared to contest it,” he said, adding that the party had managed to recover from the losses conceded during the Lok Sabha elections.