More trouble for Kejriwal as AAP faces internal rebellion, Congress divided over support
Arvind Kejriwal`s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is facing rebellion from a key party MLA, who was denied a cabinet berth, and the Congress, which appears divided on giving support to it.
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Just a day ahead of Arvind Kejriwal`s swearing-in as Delhi`s seventh Chief Minister, more trouble is in the offing for his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which faces rebellion from a key MLA, who was denied a cabinet berth, and the Congress, which appears divided on giving support to it.
Reports on Wednesday said that AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday held consultations on government formation and the party named six ministers including, Manish Sisodia, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla, Satyendra Jain and Girish Soni and sent their names to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.
However, in the process, Kejriwal left out one of its key leaders, Vinod Kumar Binny, legislator from Laxmi Nagar, triggering reports that the latter was upset over being denied a cabinet berth.
With Binny, a two time corporator in the Delhi Municipal Corporation, reportedly upset over his non-inclusion in the Cabinet, the party leaders launched full efforts to placate him in a meeting that ended late last night.
In the first sign of dissent in the party, Binny also walked out of a meeting convened at chief minister-designate Arvind Kejriwal`s house yesterday after his name did not figure in the list of probable ministers.
However, after much persuasion, Binny played down reports of a rift within the party and said that he is not upset with party high command`s decision.
Taking to reporters, Binny said that it was the CM-to-be Arvind Kejriwal`s prerogative to decide on the cabinet ministers.
"I am not upset with the party. There is no rift within the party," Binny told TV channels while he denied reports of being upset at not getting the cabinet berth.
"I am not here to become a minister, but to serve the people. (I) will fulfill the responsibility the party give me," he said.
He added, "I haven`t spoken to Arvind (Kejriwal) as there was no occasion to talk, but will go to him when it is needed."
Binny, who had defeated former Congress health minister AK Walia, refused to answer any queries from media personnel waiting outside. But he mentioned he would hold a press conference on Wednesday to make `certain revelations`.
Sources said Binny was offered the post of parliamentary secretary to the chief minister, but he wanted a key department.
While AAP leaders tried to persuade Binny, sources claimed that a section of the Congress was divided over extending support to the party, indicating tough times ahead for the political arrangement.
Many angry Congress workers yesterday protested and burnt the effigy of Kejriwal and asked party to rethink on giving support to AAP.
Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi confirmed the divide in the party over support to the new political party.
"There were divergent views within the Congress on extending support to the AAP. There is an opinion in the Congress that the decision to support was not correct," he told reporters.
A source in the party also said, “It`s a catch-22 situation because if the party withdraws support to the AAP, then it would be shooting itself in the foot as the party shouldn`t have given it in the first place. We are stuck."
As of now, senior Congress leaders are evading the question of their likely withdrawal of support to the AAP.
Divergence in Congress views became more pronounced after release of a two-minute video posted on social networking sites, where the debutant party justified its decision to take outside support from the grand old party to form a government, but also threatened action against corrupt ministers.
"We`ll take action against any previous corrupt minister of the Congress and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)," it said.
Terming Congress as B-team of AAP, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said both parties have entered into political adjustment on government formation in Delhi with "a self-serving motive" and each wants to outfox each other.
Interestingly, Kejriwal`s swearing-in ceremony may be held on December 26 and preparations have begun in full swing.
Chief Secretary DM Spolia apprised Kejriwal, set to be the next chief minister (CM) of Delhi, of the the nitty-gritty of the government formation, at the latter`s Kaushambi residence.
AAP sources said the swearing-in ceremony is likely to take place at the historic Ramlila Maidan, where an anti-corruption movement, led by Anna Hazare, was launched in 2011.
Kejriwal has refused Z category security and official CM`s bungalow he is entitled to. Party sources said Kejriwal wanted to discuss financial health of Delhi government with Spolia.
Government sources said Spolia informed Kejriwal that President Pranab Mukherjee has given clearance for government formation. A reshuffle in the bureaucracy is expected with the AAP coming to power.
AAP has made a slew of promises, including those related to power and water supply, that its critics say will be difficult to implement.
The AAP staked claim to form the government in Delhi after the BJP decided against it. AAP won 28 seats, the BJP 31 and the Congress eight in the December assembly polls.
AAP was born out of the anti-corruption movement in 2012.