The Congress made it clear yesterday that there was no rethink on its declared support for an AAP government in Delhi, scotching speculation that it was having second thoughts.
The comment came even as the Aam Admi Party (AAP), whose leader Arvind Kejriwal will take oath on Saturday as chief minister, said that the Congress was free to take any decision vis-a-vis the AAP. “There will be no rethinking on the issue-based support the Congress has given to AAP,” said its spokesman Sandeep Dikshit, son of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit.
He said the Congress was backing the AAP because of the development-related promises made in its manifesto. “Our support to the AAP’s government formation should be seen as Congress support to AAP’s manifesto,” said Dikshit. He said the Congress provided transparent governance in Delhi for 15 years - until it was voted out this month. “If AAP is able to maintain the same level of transparency, then the Congress is ready to work with the AAP government,” he said.
Dikshit’s clarification followed intense speculation overnight that the Congress had done a U-turn and was wary of propping up a government of the AAP, which continues to make remarks critical of the Congress. On Tuesday, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said that a section of the Congress felt that the decision to support the AAP “in this manner is perhaps not correct”.
There have also been sporadic street protests by Congress activists against the AAP. Arvinder Singh ‘Lovely’, the new president of the Congress in Delhi, also echoed Dikshit’s views. He said the Congress informed Lt. Governor Jung on December 13 that it would give “outside support” to an AAP government. “We stick to that stand.” He added: “We (Congress) do not have any tie-up with the AAP.”
‘Not a tie-up’
Senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav declared that his party had no obligations towards the Congress. “We have always clarified we do not have an alliance, a tie-up and not even an understanding with the Congress. In the absence of that, it is not for me to say what they should do and what they should not do,” he said.
“They are an independent mature political party... I underline that we have the numbers (to form a government), and we are going to implement our agenda,” he added. Meanwhile, listing his priorities, Kejriwal said that despite the hurdles, his party would pass the Jan Lokpal bill within 15 days of forming the government. Earlier, Kejriwal denied there was any rift within the AAP over his proposed cabinet.
Arvind Kejriwal, six others to take oath on Saturday
New Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal, who led AAP to a spectacular performance in the assembly election, will take oath at the sprawling Ramlila Maidan on Saturday as Delhi’s seventh chief minister. The 45-year-old activist-turned-politician will be sworn-in along with six other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators at a ceremony that is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people.
The AAP’s proposed ministers are Manish Sisodia, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla, Satyendra Jain and Girish Soni. President Pranab Mukherjee cleared the decks for the formation of a minority AAP government with Congress backing and chief minister-designate Kejriwal may be asked to prove majority by January 3, official sources said.
AAP leader Kumar Vishwas said: “We have requested the Lt. Governor (Najeeb Jung) that we want to take oath on December 28 (Saturday), and he has agreed.” The decision to opt for December 28, instead of the earlier December 26, was taken at a meeting of party leaders at Kejriwal’s Kaushambi house in Uttar Pradesh.
Vishwas said the AAP had invited Gandhian activist Anna Hazare, former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde and former police officer Kiran Bedi for the swearing-in. Ramlila Maidan was where Hazare, with Hegde, Bedi and Kejriwal as his aides, undertook a 12-day anti-corruption fast in 2011, triggering mass solidarity protests across India.
Kejriwal, who formed the AAP in November last year, has since fallen out with Hazare and Bedi. Meanwhile, AAP legislator Vinod Kumar Binny clarified that he was not upset after being denied a cabinet berth. Kejriwal too denied any rift in the one-year-old party. “I am not upset and I have not given any statement... We are a truly democratic party. If I was indeed upset I would have said so,” Binny said. Binny had walked out of a party meeting Tuesday where the decision on cabinet ministers was taken, after he was not included in the team.
This triggered intense speculation overnight that he might revolt. Kejriwal said: “Binny met me in the evening and informed me he did not want any post.” Binny had defeated former health minister AK Walia in Laxmi Nagar in the December 4 assembly poll.
The number of votes by which Arvind Kejriwal defeated Shiela Dikshit in the New Delhi constituency
The AAP has only 28 seats in the 70-member assembly, and it has the backing of 8 Congress legislators. The BJP, with 31 legislators, is the largest group but refused to form a government.