Government formation in Delhi: What is the Aam Aadmi Party upto?

To form or not to form the government in Delhi – that is the dilemma which the new political party on the block, the Aam Aadmi Party is faced with at the moment. In fact, some would say that it has tied itself up in knots. So much so that whether they form the government or not, either ways they have opened themselves to criticism.

Nobody would deny the fact that the AAP surprised many with their stellar performance in the recently concluded Assembly elections in Delhi by winning 28 seats in the 70 member House. They were just behind the BJP which won 31 seats emerging as the single largest party. However, as things stood on December 08, the day the results were announced, the voters had thrown up a fractured mandate. The BJP opted out of government formation categorically telling Lt Governor Najeeb Jung that they don`t have the numbers to prove majority on the floor of the House.

As far as the AAP was concerned, it maintained after the polls that it would not take support from either the Congress or the BJP to form government and would rather sit in the Opposition. The stand taken by them was understandable. After all they had gone to the people projecting themselves as a party different from the ‘corrupt’ and ‘communal’ Congress and the BJP and had promised the people of Delhi a clean and transparent government.

However, all that changed after the Congress took the initiative and offered the AAP unconditional support to form the government in Delhi. This prompted them to seek more time from the LG to take a decision, when they were invited by him to form government as the number two party.

And in the interim period they have asked people of Delhi to tell them via SMS, e-mail etc whether they should take Congress’ support and go ahead with government formation. Some would say that it is a novel idea, others would call it a political gimmick. At the same time there could be another dimension to it. There have been reports that a section of AAP MLAs were pressurising party convener Arvind Kejriwal to form the government. The clamour grew after the Congress, without being asked, offered support to the AAP. After all it is not easy to let go of power when it is at your doorstep.

Kejriwal too in an interview to a news channel accepted that there were divisions within the party as far as government formation was concerned. While emphasising that he was personally against alliance with either the BJP or the Congress, he said that a section of his MLAs were in favour of going for a shot at power. Thus, one can say that Kejriwal and company decided to take public opinion to get out of the imbroglio.

And one can also say that this way they hope to kill two birds with one stone. The AAP was born on the plank of anti-Congressism. They went to the town highlighting the scams that the grand old party was involved in and how corrupt they were. They promised a corrupt-free regime if voted to power and also promised to change the way politics was perceived in the country. So after defeating the Congress at the hustings, much like the David versus Goliath story, it would seem highly inappropriate if they would take Congress’ support to occupy the seat of power. There was the danger of being branded as other political parties who would do anything to seek power.

Thus the decision to go to the people. If the people vote in favour of the AAP forming the government with Congress’ support, the party will simply say that they were only acting on the will of the people. And if the Congress withdraws support to the AAP at some point of time, the party will go to the people and seek fresh mandate, saying that they were let down by the grand old party.

The AAP may feel that to seek opinion from the people on government formation is a masterstroke by them but the fact is that they will nonetheless be opening themselves to criticism. On one hand, they will be taken to task by the Opposition, especially the BJP, for taking support from the ‘corrupt’ Congress, in negation of their earlier stand; and on the other, if they do not form the government they will be accused of chickening out and being irresponsible. Also, many are already asking as to how prudent it is to seek referendum from the people on such matters, even though India believes in participatory democracy.

Talking about the Congress, it must be keen to give Kejriwal’s party a chance at governance, probably with the hope that it fails on its election promises and loses credibility in the eyes of the people. Meanwhile, the BJP will be watching the events unfold with the expectation that the AAP is exposed and if and when there is a re-election, they come back to power with full majority.

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