Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is inclined to give a longer rope to the Aam Aadmi Party, it is learnt, even as the latter continues to embarrass the ruling party at the Centre, ridiculing it for its unsolicited support to form the government in Delhi and even accusing Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde of being corrupt.
At a meeting with senior leaders from Delhi on Saturday, Rahul was said to have asked them to watch the AAP’s “tamasha”, adding that it would get exposed in “two to four months”.
“Aap log tamasha dekho (watch the fun). These people will not be able to do anything. Gimmickry does not work. They will get thoroughly exposed in two to four months,” sources quoted the Congress vice-president as saying at the meeting.
Party sources, however, said the Congress is unlikely to withdraw support to the AAP government until the Lok Sabha elections “at least” as it would not like to “gift martyrdom” and would rather wait for it to get exposed in terms of non-delivery of promises to people.
In an interview to The Indian Express on Sunday, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said that supporting the AAP government was an “unnecessary decision” and it should have kept quiet as, with eight seats, it was neither voted to form the government nor to be the principal opposition party.
AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi had taken the same line earlier, saying that there were “divergent views” within the Congress and the decision to support AAP was “perhaps not correct”.
Dwivedi had then said that since the proposal to support AAP had already been made, the party had to stick to it. But with the Congress left red-faced with daily barbs from the AAP government, the party finds itself in a devil-and-the-deep-sea situation.
Observers said the unfolding crisis over the Delhi Police would test the Congress and see how much of a long rope it can afford to give in the coming days. The Congress has been under pressure even before the latest confrontation as its MLAs in Delhi have been consistently critical of decisions of the Kejriwal government since it took power.
Information & Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari, who had also argued that the Congress should not have supported the AAP government as the mandate was not for this, Monday slammed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for what he said was resorting to “gimmickry” to cover up for “governance deficit”.
He said the “vigilantism” of AAP minister Somnath Bharti has played out badly in countries with which India has friendly relations for over a century.
“If we expect Indians to get dignified treatment abroad, we should accord the same treatment to foreigners here. What AAP did to those ladies from countries with which India has fraternal relations is humiliating and abhorrent. It smacks of racism. And these are countries with which we have shared history of struggle against racism and colonialism,” Tewari told The Indian Express.
“All those fantasising about going big in the Lok Sabha elections should understand that once you have the mandate to govern, people will judge you on governance and whether you come good on your promises. This kind of constitutional anarchy of a chief minister sitting on dharna against the Union home minister is irresponsible. Those who cannot move on from agitation to administration raise suspicion about their ability to govern,” Tewari said.
Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh echoed Tewari’s sentiments.
“The Aam Aadmi Party has become anarchists. I admired the values on which they ran their campaign but the way they have behaved in governance is atrocious. They are brilliant agitators, but the manner in which they have conducted themselves in the last 2-3 weeks raises serious questions about their sobriety and ability to govern,” Ramesh told The Indian Express.
“They have not made the transition from agitationists to administrators. Everyday they are becoming an embarrassment. Mr Kejriwal is so sanctimonious that for him it is either my way or the highway…No government can agree to handing over Delhi Police to the state government because of the peculiar nature of Delhi,” he said.
Ramesh has written to AAP leader Yogendra Yadav saying what his party is doing is “atrocious and irresponsible”.
Both Tewari and Ramesh, however, refrained from expressing their view on whether the Congress should continue supporting the AAP government.
“When you are a responsible party, you should always behave with more responsibility,” said AICC general secretary in charge of Delhi, Shakeel Ahmed. However, when asked if the Congress would do a re-think about its support to the AAP government, Ahmed maintained that the party leadership was yet to discuss this issue.
“Did the AAP form a government to wreck the system from within?” senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley tweeted Monday, adding that “Delhi deserves a government and not Anarchy”.
“From gimmickry and populism AAP has moved to the next level – Anarchy,” he tweeted. “Delhi is paying the price for the Congress Party’s misjudgment in supporting AAP”.
The main opposition party also blamed the Congress for the “anarchic” situation in Delhi and accused “vested political interests” of both the parties of sustaining it despite their hostile posturing against each other.
“Congress is equally responsible for this situation,” BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi told reporters, describing the situation as “anarchic”.
“Congress is the creator of the AAP and also its operator. Both have joined hands for their vested interests. Congress for its sole agenda to keep the BJP away from majority, and AAP for the sake of power despite its venom against Congress,” he said.