Fresh election or unstable regime?
Will Delhi have a new government or will it go for a fresh poll? The capital may not be a full State as the Delhi Assembly and Government have only truncated powers, but it is politically important. Most right-thinking people believe that a fresh election is the only answer to the present imbroglio. The sting video by the Aam Aadmi Party, showing a BJP leader allegedly trying to lure the former’s MLAs, reinforces this opinion. Nobody wants a fresh election so soon, but it is clear that without resignations or defections, no new government is possible.
Delhi has been under President’s Rule since 17th February after AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal resigned as the Chief Minister, protesting against the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung’s, refusal to allow the introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Assembly.
The capital is agog with rumours of the BJP toying with the idea of forming the Government soon. The question is: How will it take a plunge when it does not have the magic number? If it manages to poach on the Legislators of other parties, does it not amount to horse-trading? A minority government can be formed, but will it last? These are some of the questions that are being debated in the political circles. The final call has to be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.
The current position in the Assembly is like this: The BJP had won 31 seats in the 70-member Assembly but the number of BJP MLAs came down to 28 as three party legislators, Messrs Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri and Parvesh Verma, resigned from the Assembly after they were elected to the Lok Sabha. The AAP had won 28 seats in its debut Assembly election and had later formed the Government with outside support from the Congress’s eight MLAs.
Both the AAP and the Congress have been alleging that the BJP was trying to lure their MLAs. The Lt Governor is exploring the possibilities of a popular Government in the present Assembly by inviting the single largest party (the BJP) to form the government to avoid a fresh election. The Supreme Court has given another month to resolve the issue.
The BJP is reportedly looking at two options. A powerful section is strongly advocating for taking the plunge on the ground, but most BJP Legislators do not want to face the election this soon. This section believes that the Congress and the AAP would not dare to bring down the Government because no Legislator wants to go for a fresh poll.
They argue that it will add one more State to the BJP’s kitty, which now rules in Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Moreover, the BJP had been out of power in Delhi for the past 15 years.
The other section fears that efforts to form a government may end up being a misadventure and that the party should stay away from the idea. Leaders from this line of thinking are not sure whether the BJP will get as many seats as of now, in view of the rising prices and inflation. After all, soon after the Delhi Assembly poll, the BJP decided to be a ‘principled’ party and did not form the Government even though it emerged as the single largest party.
Nothing much has changed in the interim period. This section wants the party to concentrate on the ensuing Assembly polls to Haryana, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra. Moreover, the BJP does not have a good chief ministerial candidate who can take control of the party and the new Government.
Ironically, none of the three big parties – the BJP, the Congress or the AAP – is in a position to improve its performance if a fresh election is held now.
In such a situation, another election seems to be the fair option as any alternative would not give a stable Government. The Lt Governor should dissolve the Assembly and order for fresh poll instead of experiment with another fragile Government which could encourage horse-trading. If Modi wants to retain the image he has built up, he should opt for a poll and not a fragile regime.
As for the electorate, it will be better if the voters opt for a stable Government rather than give a split verdict again. What is required is good governance. Only a stable government can show results.