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The Delhi assembly is in limelight once again. After a brief brush with power, the AAP had set its sight higher and came down crashing in the general elections. Now, despite having cheated the people of Delhi once, they are hoping to come back to power. Manish Sisodia has said that his party is ready for fresh elections, although their experience with the electorate was not too pleasant in the campaigning during the general elections.

The BJP, on the other hand, has a new state chief in Satish Upadhyay following the elevation of Dr Harsh Vardhan to the Union Health ministry. The state MLAs are now veering around to the view that fresh elections are the only alternative to the impasse. Consequently, he met the union home minister Rajnath Singh and apprised him of the situation. But some MLAs are also of the view that the party should take a shot at government formation, although how they are going to do it without the numbers is any one’s guess. Any attempt to lure two-thirds of the Congress MLAs (as required to circumvent the provisions of the Anti-Defection law) would give the party a bad name.

The Congress, wiped out in both the assembly and the general elections, is keeping mum as it knows that it is nowhere in the picture. Despite having heavyweights in the form of Kapil Sibal, Ajay Maken and Sandeep Dikshit in Delhi, the party and its leaders have lost all touch with the electorate. They are not able to raise any issues as the power crisis has improved considerably. Its only fear is that a good number of its MLAs might defect to the BJP.

The Delhi assembly is hung in such a way that fresh elections seem to be the only way out. The cost involved should always make the politicians look for an alternative, but in the given scenario that is not possible. Only AAP and Congress can unite to form the government, as they had done before, but that is now not possible given hardened attitudes and mistrust on both sides.

The AAP has upped the ante by repeatedly calling for fresh elections. It fears that the BJP might engineer defections from the Congress and form the government. For this reason, Arvind Kejriwal met the Lt. Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung on Monday, along with 24 of his MLAs and apprised him of his fear. He requested Jung to dissolve the assembly and call for fresh elections. Despite his bravado, Kejriwal knows that he has an uphill task as the people of Delhi have neither forgotten nor forgiven what he did to betray their trust.

The ball is in the court of Jung now. He will be within his rights if he asks the leader of the single largest party in the assembly to explore avenues for government formation. Many precedents exist for this. But such a line of action is also a sure invitation for parties to indulge in horse trading, something that should be avoided at all costs. In fact, the BJP should have a meeting of its legislators and decide conclusively against forming the government without the numbers. The Central leadership should come down firmly on any attempt to encourage horse trading.

The BJP MLAs are worried that after the immense hype of ‘acche din,’ they will have difficulty in explaining to the people why things are not moving in the right direction. They feel that the people will not understand how things take time to fall in place. Further, with inflation, especially food inflation, still at a high level, they feel that the people might go against them. Delhi has recently suffered its worst power crisis in years. There were widespread protests on that issue. Hence, some MLAs feel that they will have a lot of explaining to do if they go back to the people.

Ideally, elections to the state assembly should have been held together with the recent general elections. That would have saved costs. But no party was then willing to stick its neck out and demand fresh elections as they are doing now. The leaders of AAP, which is in the forefront of the fresh election demand now, were occupied in trying to create an all India footprint for the party and had no time for Delhi. The Congress could see the writing on the wall and knew its stalwarts were sinking, so it did nothing to disturb the Delhi assembly stalemate. The BJP could have grabbed the opportunity and wrested control of the state by asking for simultaneous elections then, but it too was preoccupied with getting hold of the Lok Sabha first. Hence, the country will now be saddled with the cost of another election.

But as of now, the BJP is in the best position to approach the people. It still has the goodwill of the support generated in the general election, when it won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the state. Hence, it is surprising that it is hesitating in calling for fresh elections. The party should immediately approach the Lt. Governor and recommend dissolution of the assembly. This will achieve two things. On the one hand it will prevent AAP to stop its tirade of the BJP wanting to form the government through horse trading and on the other hand, it will assure the people that the BJP will form the government only when they give it the numbers to do so – and it will not run away like the last government.

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