AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal (right) at a press conference on Tuesday (photo: PTI)
An alleged sting video by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has thrown Delhi politics into disarray and dealt a serious blow to the BJP’s chances of forming a state government. The Delhi assembly has been in suspended animation since first-time Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal suddenly resigned in February, barely 49 days after forming a minority government with outside support from the Congress.
The video allegedly shows Delhi BJP Vice President Sher Singh Dagar offering Rs. 4 crores ($666,667) to AAP MLA Dinesh Mohaniya to switch to the BJP.
This sting operation comes as a huge political gift for the AAP, which has been in the doldrums since its debacle in the general election in May. With the BJP winning 46 percent of the votes in Delhi’s 7 parliamentary seats at the time and many questions being asked of Kejriwal’s leadership style, the party faced a serious crisis.
Now, however, it is the BJP that is on the back foot in Delhi. Neither the BJP nor the AAP have a majority to form the state government: the BJP is the single largest party with 28 MLAs in the 67-member house, while the AAP has 27 members and the Congress only eight. There are four other members in the house.
That is the reason why the BJP has been exploring the possibility of winning over a few MLAs from other parties to make up the numbers. But that was always going to be a risky move since bribes often have to be offered for such support.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made it clear that while efforts could be made to form the state government, there should be no ‘horse-trading’.
The party’s top leadership is therefore upset at the way the Delhi unit of the party has been caught in the sting operation allegedly trying to poach an AAP MLA.
"It was exactly this that the party's top brass feared. AAP is known to function like this. How could the Delhi leaders behave so foolishly?" a central BJP leader was quoted by the Economic Times on Monday.
Delhi BJP president Satish Upadhyay has served a show-cause notice to Dagar, claiming that Dagar had not been authorised to approach AAP legislators for support.
The ‘horse-trading’ allegation has come as a blow to the BJP's plans to form a government, since the party would now be wary of reaching out to other MLAs to win their support.
Reports had indicated that the BJP was about to receive an invitation from Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and the party was likely to prove its majority on the floor of the house in a secret ballot.
But this controversy is now likely to weigh on any decision by the lieutenant governor to invite the BJP to form the next government.
Meanwhile, the Congress has also sharpened its attack on both the BJP and the AAP. Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit accused the AAP of trying to win over MLAs from his party.
"I want to question the AAP members why are they after Congress MLAs. They were on their knees in front of Congress MLAs a few days ago. Kejriwal is now desperate to come to power," Dikshit claimed.
Both the Congress and AAP want a fresh election in Delhi as they fancy their chances, given that food inflation has remained high since May and there have been power shortages in the capital, both of which have dented the BJP’s popularity.