Operation Delhi Assembly Is BJP trying to buy AAP MLAs for a majority?

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With a month left for Delhi to go to polls, the BJP is working overtime to finalise its strategy on how to achieve the much-needed majority in the Assembly.

Kejriwal-assembly-PTI

According to a report in The Indian Express, at least five AAP MLAs have claimed that people linked to the BJP have contacted them to break away from their party and help the BJP come to power.

Speaking to the daily, Rajesh Garg, the AAP MLA who was earlier with the Congress, said: “We have been approached by the BJP on several occasions. On Monday, a man who claimed to have links with the BJP met me. He said the Congress or the AAP won’t come to power if fresh elections are held. He suggested that it was best if I broke away from the AAP and even said that if I had any conditions — if I wanted some money for it — he would speak to the BJP top leadership and arrange it.”

Interestingly, Garg himself had last week, according to an India Today report, appealed to the Congress to back the AAP and allow it to form government once again. “Re-election would mean a burden of over Rs 1,000 crore. Why should the exchequer suffer another blow of huge expenditure?” he had said, adding that he would not go against his party’s decision.

AAP MLAs Raju Dhingan and Manoj Kumar also claim that they have been approached by BJP workers who are offering them money and ministerial berths.

But while AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal denies that any of his MLAs will support the BJP, another AAP MLA claims that his colleagues are willing to move away in the interest of the city.

“Several MLAs from AAP will move against the party in support of the BJP to form the government. It is only in the benefit of the people of Delhi to have a stable government now and we think BJP can provide that,” the MLA, who did not wish to be identified,told Daily Bhaskar.

The BJP, though, is not dismissing any such claims. “There is widespread discontent among AAP cadres including the legislators. They are anyway on the verge of revolt. Many of them may resign from the assembly,” a BJP leader told The Economic Times.

“In politics, it is natural for MLAs of one party meet those of another. But it is irresponsible on their part to claim that we are trying to break their party and that we have offered them money or other incentives,” Harish Khurana, spokesperson for the Delhi BJP, told The Indian Express.

The BJP had won 32 seats, four short of majority, while the Congress won just eight, with its three-term CM Sheila Dikshit losing to AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal.

If not poach, the BJP will look to have at least 10 MLAs from the AAP/Congress resign or get expelled from the party so that the strength of the House reduces and they can then claim a majority. While the BJP leader who spoke to ET denied an outright “Yeddyurappa strategy” — who infamously used Operation Kamal to woo opposition members in Karnataka — he did acknowledge, “There is widespread discontent among AAP cadres including the legislators. They are anyway on the verge of revolt. Many of them may resign from the assembly. Once they resign, the strength of the assembly would come down, and the majority based on the reduced total strength of the assembly would be lower.”

It is no secret that many within the AAP are disgruntled with the functioning of the top leadership. In the last 30 days, two senior party leaders – Shazia Ilmi, Capt Gopinath quit the party, while Anjali Damania and psephologist Yogendra Yadav tendered their resignations which were later withdrawn.

When the Delhi elections, held in December last year, sprung up a hung assembly, the debutant Aam Aadmi Party, with a remarkable performance of 28 seats in the 70 member house, took support from the Congress to form government, but gave up governance in just 49 days after failing to introduce the Jan Lokpal bill in the Assembly.

According to Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, if no party claims stake to form government for a period of six months since the imposition of President’s Rule, the state will have to go for fresh polls unless both Houses of Parliament agree to another extension of six months.

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